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Jio 5G vs Airtel 5G: Launch date, top speeds, and cities for first rollout

When will the Jio 5G and Airtel 5G rollout happen? How high will be the 5G speeds? What cities will get 5G first? We give the answers.

Published:Fri, August 12, 2022 6:46pm

By Shubham Verma

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In a matter of a few days, India will join the 5G club with the launch of commercial services of next-generation wireless technology. The auction of the 5G spectrum concluded with record bids. Reliance Jio emerged as the top bidder, followed by Airtel and Vi. The high allocation of 5G airwaves to India's leading telecom companies meant reasonably high coverage and faster speeds than 4G.

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For coverage, the most ideal airwaves are the ones in the low-band spectrum. For instance, the 700MHz airwaves, which only Reliance Jio has purchased. The 700MHz airwaves never found a bidder before because of their high prices, but this time, Jio acquired them in order to have an upper hand in terms of 5G coverage. But the 700MHz airwaves cannot offer the best speeds.

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Airtel, on the other hand, remained its bidding in the C-band or the mid-band where sub-6GHz airwaves are available. These airwaves serve less coverage but offer higher speeds. Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal said the company has enough airwaves to offer the best 5G speeds without needing to acquire as many airwaves as Jio did.

But amid this rivalry, consumers are most interested in three things: When will the 5G rollout happen? How high will be the 5G speeds? And what cities will get 5G first?

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When will the 5G rollout happen?

For the first question, there are some tentative timeframes, but none of them is specific. After the successful conclusion of the 5G spectrum auction, the government said the 5G deployment will happen as early as next month, i.e., September. But considering 5G spectrums are with private players and not the ones run by the government, it makes sense to hear what the telcos are saying.

Airtel became the first company to confirm its 5G rollout plans. It announced Airtel 5G services will begin in August, while the pan-India rollout is likely to be completed by 2024. Jio, on the other hand, has not made an announcement about the 5G rollout timeframe. But a report said Jio may announce a date on August 15, India's Independence Day. It is also possible that Airtel also makes an announcement the same day to outshine Jio.

How high will be the 5G speeds?

5G is dramatically faster than 4G. South Korea and the US have the fastest 5G speeds, but there have been some doubts over 5G speeds in India. In its demo in March, Airtel 5G delivered a high speed of over 1Gbps and a latency of 20ms. Jio, too, demoed a 5G speed of over 1Gbps in its trials, but a speed test result from January showed a maximum download speed of 420Mbps and an upload speed of 412Mbps.

Of course, these speeds were achieved in controlled environments and with limited users. The real-world speeds of both Airtel 5G and Jio 5G are expected to be lower. However, there is no official comment from either company.

What cities will get 5G first?

While Jio and Airtel have not individually revealed the cities the 5G services will be first rolled out, the Department of Telecom previously earmarked 13 cities. They include Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Gandhinagar, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Jamnagar, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, and Pune.

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