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MC Explains: Why is Reliance Jio betting big on standalone 5G architecture?

During its Annual General Meeting, Reliance announced it will be deploying Stand-alone 5G in the country

August 29, 2022 / 07:05 PM IST
 
 
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With its aim to beat China and the US to launch an advanced 5G network, Reliance Jio, the telecom arm of conglomerate Reliance Industries, announced that it will be deploying what it calls standalone 5G, which will have zero dependency on the 4G network.

With Stand-Alone 5G, Jio can deliver new and powerful services such as low latency connectivity, massive machine-to-machine communication, 5G voice, Edge computing and network slicing, and metaverse.

The company explained that most telecom operators at present are deploying a version of 5G called non-standalone 5G, which is essentially a 5G radio signal delivered over an existing 4G infrastructure.

A “threefold advantage” of standalone 5G architecture, better mix of spectrum, and carrier aggregation means that Jio True 5G will be able to offer a combination of coverage, capacity, quality and affordability, the company said.

The telecom operator is also working with global smartphone OEMs to offer these services.

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However, what is standalone 5G, how does it work, how is it different from non-standalone 5G networks? Let’s take a look.

MC Explains

What is standalone 5G, and how is it different?

Standalone 5G uses the 5G New Radio (NR) access network which is a set of standards that replaces the LTE network 4G wireless communications standard.

However, non-standalone 5G is termed as ‘the first stage of 5G’, and uses a new 5G NR access network overlaid on an existing 4G LTE network core.

Essentially, standalone 5G will be able to deliver low latency connectivity, machine-to-machine communication, and 5G voice and metaverse features.

“This non-standalone approach is a hasty way to nominally claim a 5G launch, but it won't deliver the breakthrough improvements in performance and capability possible with 5G,” the company said.

How much standalone 5G spectrum did Reliance buy at the auction of radio waves?

At the recent auction conducted by the Department of Telecommunications, Jio had acquired the largest and the most appropriate mix of wireless spectrum for 5G, the company said. This gives Jio 5G a distinct competitive advantage over other operators.

In addition to the 3500 MHz mid-band that is globally earmarked for 5G, and the 26 GHz millimetre-wave band for ultra-high capacity, only Jio has the 700 MHz low-band spectrum which is essential for deep indoor coverage.

These frequencies will be combined into a ‘single powerful data highway’ using a technology called carrier aggregation, the company said.

Will Reliance be the only service provider to offer standalone 5G?

Yes. Its rivals have opted for non-standalone 5G networks.

Will all smartphones support standalone 5G?

All phones may not support standalone 5G. While there are many phones in the market that will support the majority of the 5G spectrum bands that were auctioned, OEMs may push OTA or over-the-air updates to enable compatibility to standalone 5G.

What about SA 5G deployers in other countries?

According to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association, a mobile communications industry body whose members include Ericsson, Apple, Qualcomm and others, at least seven operators in five countries/territories may have launched public SA 5G networks. In China, they are China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, among others. In the US, T-Mobile has launched standalone 5G nationwide using 600 MHz spectrum, while RAIN has launched 5G SA in parts of Cape Town in South Africa. Other countries with standalone 5G include Colombia, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

Disclosure: Moneycontrol is a part of the Network18 group. Network18 is controlled by Independent Media Trust, of which Reliance Industries is the sole beneficiary.
Debangana Ghosh
Aihik Sur covers tech policy, drones, space tech among other beats at Moneycontrol
first published: Aug 29, 2022 06:50 pm
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