As part of its plan to launch 5G services for millions of customers across the country, Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio), the telecom arm of Reliance Industries, has entered into a strategic alliance with global players to develop a 5G network in India. In two separate developments, the Akash Ambani-led company has signed contracts with Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson and Finnish telecommunications firm Nokia for pan-India 5G rollout. Jio plans to launch 5G services in certain cities by this Diwali and countrywide rollout by end of 2023.

Ericsson in a release on Monday says it has entered into a long-term strategic 5G contract with Jio to roll out 5G standalone in the country. Nokia in a release states it has been selected as a major supplier by Reliance Jio to supply 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment from its comprehensive AirScale portfolio countrywide in a multi-year deal.

The announcements follow the allocation of 5G spectrum in the recently concluded auctions in India in which 51,236 MHz was allocated to the country’s largest telecom service providers in terms of subscribers. In order to build a pan-India 5G network, Jio has committed an investment of ₹2 lakh crore. The oil-to-telecom conglomerate plans to roll-out its 5G service across the country by December 2023. "By December 2023, we will deliver Jio 5G to blanket 3.37 million square kilometres of India’s landmass," RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani had said in the AGM meeting in August.

As per the deal with Nokia, the Finnish firm will supply equipment from its AirScale portfolio, including base stations, high-capacity 5G Massive MIMO antennas, and Remote Radio Heads (RRH) to support different spectrum bands, and self-organising network software.

Reliance Jio plans to deploy a 5G standalone network which will interwork with its 4G network. The network will enable Reliance Jio to deliver advanced 5G services such as massive machine-to-machine communications, network slicing, and ultra-low-latency.

Commenting on the deal, Akash Ambani, chairman, Reliance Jio, says: “We are pleased to be working with Nokia for our 5G SA deployment in India. Jio is committed to continuously investing in the latest network technologies to enhance the experience of all of its customers. We are confident that our partnership with Nokia will deliver one of the most advanced 5G networks globally.”

On partnership with Ericsson, Akash says: “We are delighted to partner with Ericsson for Jio’s 5G SA rollout. Jio transformed the digital landscape in India with the launch of LTE services in 2016. We are confident that Jio’s 5G network will accelerate India’s digitalisation and will serve as the foundation for achieving our nation’s ‘Digital India’ vision.”

This is the first partnership between Jio and Ericsson for radio access network deployment in the country. Jio’s Standalone 5G network deployment represents a major technology leap since it modernises the network infrastructure to deliver a truly transformative 5G experience to consumers and enterprises, Ericsson says in a release.

“The capabilities of 5G SA are expected to drive innovation and build a robust 5G ecosystem and deliver advanced services. Ericsson’s energy-efficient 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) products and solutions (from the Ericsson Radio System portfolio) and E-band microwave mobile transport solutions will be deployed in the 5G network for Jio,” the release notes.

As per the release, all products and solutions are deployed on new-build 5G standalone networks, designed to maximise the benefits of 5G to Indian communications service providers (CSPs) and their customers – whether individual subscribers or enterprise and industry customers.

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