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Qualcomm and India’s top telco strike 5G pact, hit 1Gbps in trials

This goes some way towards explaining the 5G network kit Jio suddenly announced it had built and would sell

Qualcomm and India’s top telco, Jio, have teamed on 5G networking kit.

In July 2020 Jio’s parent company Reliance Industries made the surprise announcement that it had built its own 5G platform and intended to become a global vendor of such wares. Jio was announced customer number one, but details of exactly what Reliance had built or planned to sell was not revealed.

That changed on Tuesday, when Qualcomm announced silicon to power radio access networks (RANs) on 5G kit “ranging from macro base stations with massive MIMO to micro base stations with compact designs”.

Jio added that it and Qualcomm have “aligned” efforts to “develop open and interoperable interface compliant architecture based 5G solutions with a virtualized RAN”.

Top global telcos such as Vodafone, Softbank, AT&T, BT and Verizon all put up their hands to say they think Qualcomm’s kit will be tremendously useful.

Jio and Qualcomm also said they’ve been messing around with Qualcomm’s new silicon on Jio’s 5G platform and achieved 1Gbps connections. Qualcomm also announced its products in Ericsson kit have helped Verizon to hit 5.06 Gbps.

News of the alignment between Qualcomm and Jio makes the latter's promise to build a "complete 5G solution from scratch... using 100 per cent homegrown technologies and solutions" look a little wobbly given Qualcomm’s a US company. But Mathew Oommen, president of Reliance Jio Infocomm, said the paring nonetheless provides “the ideal combination for local manufacturing and for accelerating the realization of Atmanirbhar Bharat [self-sufficiency] for an inclusive 5G nation.”

Even if this tie-up only means Qualcomm scores Jio as a customer, it will probably be worth it given the Indian carrier already has over 400 million subscribers. With Huawei often playing on price but now excluded from many 5G projects around the world, a made-in-India 5G product set could deliver considerable rewards. ®

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