Indian cellco Bharti Airtel has conducted a successful trial of 5G on the 700MHz band on the outskirts of Kolkata. The tests were carried out with Finnish vendor Nokia, using its AirScale radios and Standalone (SA) core. Airtel notes that the trials leveraged the propagation characteristics of the 700MHz band spectrum to achieve high speed wireless broadband network coverage of 40km between two 3GPP standard 5G sites in real life conditions. Commenting on the development Airtel CTO Randeep Singh said: ‘Today, we are delighted to conduct India’s first 5G demo in the coveted 700MHz band in [Kolkata] to showcase the power of this technology standard. We believe that with the right pricing of 5G spectrum in the upcoming auctions, India can unlock the digital dividend and build a truly connected society with broadband for all.’
As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database the pricing of spectrum in the 700MHz band has been a contentious issue in India. Despite the importance of the band for increasing coverage of mobile broadband services, operators passed on the opportunity to purchase frequencies in that range at auction in 2016 and 2021, citing the excessive price tag as the reason on both occasions.