India's second-largest telecom operator, Bharti Airtel on Wednesday said it has crossed the 1 million unique 5G user mark on its network. The company said it achieved this milestone in less than 30 days of its commercial launch even as the network is being built.

This comes weeks after Bharti Airtel launched 5G service in eight Indian cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Siliguri, Nagpur and Varanasi.

The services in these cities are getting rolled out in a phased manner as the company continues to construct its network and complete the roll out.

The telco promises between 20 and 30 times higher speeds on its 5G network compared with the existing 4G service.

"These are early days but the response from customers has been very encouraging. Our network is being built every day even as all 5G devices are now capable of working on the Airtel 5G Plus network barring a few exceptions which should also be done in the coming weeks. We will continue to advance our network with a vision to connect the entire country," says Randeep Sekhon, chief technology officer, Bharti Airtel.

Airtel claims it initiated the 5G trials in 2021 and became the first operator to commercially launch 5G in the country.

Customers with 5G smart phones can enjoy the high speed Airtel 5G Plus on their existing data plans until the roll out is more widespread, the company says, adding that there is no need to change the SIM as the existing Airtel 4G SIM is 5G enabled.

Airtel claims the company's 5G Plus service runs on a technology that has the widest acceptance in the world with the most developed ecosystem. "Airtel 5G Plus will bolster the entire portfolio of services that Airtel offers. In addition, it will allow superfast access to high definition video streaming, gaming, multiple chatting, instant uploading of photos and more," it says.

Meanwhile, 5G download speeds in India reached 500 Mbps on 5G test networks with Reliance Jio Infocomm clocking 600 Mbps median download speed on its 5G network in Delhi, according to a report by network intelligence and connectivity insights company Ookla.

In the national capital, Airtel reached nearly 200 Mbps median download speed at 197.98 Mbps while Jio almost broke 600 Mbps (598.58 Mbps) since June 2022, says Ookla.

The soft launch of 5G services by India's two biggest telecom operators follows spectrum auctions in which 51,236 MHz was allocated to telecom service providers.

The government recently amended the Indian Telegraph Right of Way (RoW) Rules, 2016 to facilitate faster and easier deployment of telecom infrastructure for 5G rollout. The new rules put a ceiling for RoW charges for installation of 5G small cells and optical fibre cable on street furniture.

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