Cisco and Bharti Airtel Collaborates to Build India’s Largest 5G-Ready IP Network

Cisco announced its collaboration with India’s largest telecommunications service provider, Bharti Airtel to build the largest 5G-ready, IP-based, and fully automated network in India. Cisco made the announcement during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 24, 2019, where it also evinced how it helped its service providers and customers adopt and drive revenue from 5G-powered services.

Together the companies will help Airtel provide seamless user experiences and deliver world-class high-speed mobile access for its subscribers across India.

“As part of Project Leap, Bharti Airtel has built a world-class network that is ready to serve the explosive growth in high-speed data services in a market with more than 1 billion subscribers,” said Chief Technology Officer of Bharti Airtel Randeep Sekhon in a press release.

India is the second largest mobile communications market in the world with 1.1 billion subscribers. According to the Cisco Mobile Visual Networking Index Forecast, last 2017, the average monthly data usage per device in India is 3.5 GB, and it is projected to increase to 17.5GB by 2022. This outgrowth in network usage needs a new model for delivering services and connecting more end users while paving the 5G path.

5G Transformation

Like any other company, Bharti Airtel has been struggling to keep its subscribers since rival Jio’s attack with low-priced data offerings. Airtel had been facing negative cash flows over the last three quarters. Preparing Airtel to compete in the 5G race gives the telecommunication company the opportunity to compose itself back and capitalize over India’s 1.1 billion subscribers.

An official report by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) stated that Cisco’s rival Jio has twice the average speed compared of what Airtel is able to provide.

“Partnering with Cisco will help us transform our network architecture to enhance customer experiences while concurrently preparing for 5G and the era of connected things,” added Sekhon.

As one of the leaders in IT and networking worldwide, Cisco partners with Airtel both aiming to transform its network to extend reach, reliability and scalability that enriches a subscriber’s experience, extends internet protocol (IP) services to the deepest rural markets, and most especially, to provide a strong foundation for a transformation towards 5G.

In addition, the IP network architecture allows Bharti Airtel to improve its services to small and medium businesses in key growth vertical including smart cities, Internet of Things, utilities, and retail.

Cisco’s Senior Vice President and General Manager Jonathan Davidson said, “Cisco and Bharti Airtel share a vision for simplification through automation, and are working closely to define mobile networking best practices that will support its growth plans.”

“With today’s announcement, Bharti Airtel is marking key milestones in its network architecture transition to prepare the company for greater reach and scale and deliver quality services to mobile users in India. No matter their location,” Davidson added.

Commitment to 5G

Through the years of service, Cisco had over 100 active engagements with customers all over the world on 5G and 40 service providers are actively testing and rolling out Cisco 5G Now solutions.

By 2022, Mobile VNI Forecast projects the average 5G connection (22 GB/month) will produce nearly three times more traffic on the network compared to the average 4G connection (8 GB/month).

Service providers should improve their networks to keep up with the 5G trend. Providers must invest in up-to-date 5G services to remain competitive in the market.

To help its customers succeed with their 5G evolution, Cisco is planning to commit USD 5 million in 5G funding via Cisco financing over the next 3 years.


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