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Cisco and Airtel lay foundations for India’s 5G future

The fully-automated IP network architecture will help to support the growth of key verticals such as smart cities, utilities and manufacturing

The companies are collaborating to provide the infrastructure for India's digital future
The companies are collaborating to provide the infrastructure for India's digital future

Cisco is working with Airtel to build India’s largest 5G-ready, IP-based fully automated network.

With 1.1 billion subscribers, India is the world’s second largest mobile communications market. The monthly data usage per smartphone in India is expected to increase from 3.5 GB in 2017 to 17.5 GB by 2022, according to the Cisco Mobile Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast 2017-2022.

Cisco made the announcement ahead of the start of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which runs 25-28 February, where it will showcase how it is helping its service provider and enterprise customers adopt and drive revenue from 5G-powered services.

A foundation for evolution

Airtel will partner with Cisco Customer Experience to transform its network to extend reach, reliability and scalability that enhances its customers’ experiences, extends IP services to even deep rural markets and importantly, lay a solid foundation for evolution towards 5G.

The fully-automated IP network architecture will give Airtel the ability to enhance its services to SMBs and enterprises in urban centre and rural communities, including key growth verticals such as smart cities, the Internet of Things (IoT), utilities and manufacturing.

"As part of Project Leap, Airtel has built a world-class network that is ready to serve the explosive growth in high speed data services in a market with over one billion subscribers," said Randeep Sekhon, CTO at Bharti Airtel. "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."

The network architecture is based on open network standards to simplify adoption by other operators, thereby enabling mobile access to more people throughout India.

"As part of Project Leap, Airtel has built a world-class network that is ready to serve the explosive growth in high speed data services in a market with over one billion subscribers"

"Cisco and Airtel share a vision for simplification through automation, and are working closely to define mobile networking best practices that will support its growth plans," said Jonathan Davidson, senior vice president and general manager, service provider business, Cisco.


"With today’s announcement, 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."


Cisco’s 5G commitment

Cisco has had over 100 active engagements with global customers on 5G and 40 service providers are actively trialling and deploying Cisco 5G Now solutions.

Its recent Mobile VNI Forecast shows that by 2022, the average 5G connection (22 GB/month) will generate nearly three times more traffic on the networks than the average 4G connection (8 GB/month). Service providers must expand their networks to support this growth. At the same time, they must invest in new 5G services to stay competitive. Cisco is planning to commit $5bn in 5G funding via Cisco financing over the next three years to help its customers succeed with their network transitions to 5G.

The company is unveiling a host of new products and solutions at its stand in Hall 3 #E330 of Mobile World Congress. Its demonstrations will include:

sustainable wireless connectivity: together with Google Station, Cisco is showcasing how it will work with internet service providers, governments and public venues on a mission to include one billion people in the growth opportunities of the digital economy
5G, wi-fi and smart communities: Cisco is demonstrating how 5G and WiFi architectures play critical roles in helping service providers offer managed services to connected communities like the city of Barcelona, enabling them to improve economic sustainability, civic services and city infrastructure
5G beyond the city, featuring the UK 5G Rural First project: as one of the key partners with the UK, Cisco will show how it is helping to "connect the unconnected" via 5G in rural locations
wi-fi 6: Cisco will demonstrate how it is making wi-fi 6 better with new and improved capabilities built on the same foundation as 5G. The new wireless standard can deliver three to four times the throughput of previous standards, sub-millisecond latency, and the ability to support up to 70 devices per 100 square meters
• connected cars: Cisco IoT and 5G architectures are enabling automakers to partner with service providers to deliver new monetisable services around predictive maintenance, improved R&D, data-driven sales and marketing.

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