Airtel ropes in Tatas for 5G tech to counter Jio’s march
Analysts told TOI that the partnership with the Tata Group may well be a “psychological morale booster” for Mittal who has been staving off an onslaught from Jio — and the global partners of its parent Jio Platforms — since the Mukesh Ambani-controlled company launched services in September 2016.
The new partnership is being seen as a result of Airtel’s October 2017 deal with the Tata Group where the latter had merged its loss-making consumer mobile business with Mittal’s company, though there is no apparent direct connection.
Airtel and Tata Group’s flagship TCS will now jointly work on developing 5G technologies and deploying them on networks in India, and possibly even abroad — on Airtel’s African operations, and also for sale/export to other telecom companies.
“TCS brings its global system integration expertise and helps align the end-to-end solution… as the network and equipment are increasingly embedded into software. Airtel will pilot and deploy this indigenous solution as part of its 5G rollout plans in India and start the pilot in January 2022, as per the guidelines formulated by the government,” the companies said.
The ‘Made in India’ 5G products and solutions would be up to global standards, and will inter-operate with other products based on standard open interfaces such as the O-RAN (Open Radio Access Network) Alliance.
“We are delighted to join forces with the Tata Group to make India a global hub for 5G and allied technologies. With its world-class technology ecosystem and talent pool, India is well positioned to build cutting-edge solutions and applications for the world. This will also provide a massive boost to India becoming an innovation and manufacturing destination,” Gopal Vittal, CEO of Airtel India, said.
N Ganapathy Subramaniam from the Tata Group/TCS said they are excited about the 5G technology and are looking to build a world-class networking equipment and solutions business. “We are pleased to have Airtel as our customer.”
Prashant Singhal, a top technology and telecom partner with Ernst & Young India, said the partnership is synergistic and has the potential to open global business opportunities. The race for indigenous technology has been heating up, with even PM Narendra Modi pushing companies for local R&D and India-based solutions, especially with fear around cyber threats.
Speaking at India Mobile Congress last year, both Mittal and Ambani spoke about the need to develop 5G solutions. Ambani was vocal about local solutions and said Jio will “pioneer the 5G Revolution” in India.