India’s first rural 5G trial showcased by Airtel and Ericsson

Tea plantation
A rural tea plantation in India. (Image credit: David Mark from Pixabay)

Ericsson and Airtel have announced India’s first rural 5G trial, on already-available 3GPP-compliant 5G technology. India has an estimated population of 1.4 billion people, with some 900 million living in rural areas – more than 11 percent of the entire population of the world, so this success is big news.  

The trial signals that the most transformative connectivity technology in history is already capable of being deployed using the same 3GPP standards as the rest of the world - and can help to bridge India’s rural-urban digital divide in the process.

“5G will be a transformational technology.”

Randeep Singh Sekhon, Airtel.

“Having demonstrated India’s first 5G network and also the first 5G cloud gaming experience, Airtel is proud to have also conducted the nation’s first 5G trial in a rural setting,” said Randeep Singh Sekhon, CTO, Airtel. “5G will be a transformational technology when it comes to delivering broadband coverage to the last mile through use cases like Fixed Wireless Access and contribute to a more inclusive digital economy. Airtel will continue to be at the forefront of 5G technology and bring more India-relevant use cases through partnerships such as the one with Ericsson,” Sekhon continues. 

3.5Ghz mid-band test 5G spectrum

Taking place in Bhaipur Bramanan village on the outskirts of Delhi, the trial focused on Airtel and Ericsson’s ability to bring 3GPP-compliant Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and enhanced mobile broadband 5G capabilities to larger rural area spans. The trial was carried out using 3.5Ghz mid-band test 5G spectrum – awarded to Airtel by India’s Department of Telecom, for the purposes of the trial. Existing FDD spectrum was also used during the trial.

More than 200Mbps throughput was achieved on the 3GPP compliant 5G FWA device at distance of more than 10 km from the test site. As part of the trial, a commercially available 3GPP-based 5G smartphone connected to the 5G test network, delivered more than 100Mbps speeds beyond a 10km range. This equates to an inter-site – between two 5G sites – coverage of approximately 20 kms, showing that high 5G speed broadband coverage can be deployed across even remote areas. The trial also highlighted Airtel’s capability of enabling 5G for both coverage and capacity over its existing nationwide 4G infrastructure.  

“5G will serve as a socio-economic multiplier for the country."

Nunzio Mirtillo, Ericsson.

“The technology milestone of extended coverage achieved by Ericsson and Airtel as part of the ongoing 5G trial in India is significant as it shows how 5G can connect the unconnected in India, enable faster 5G rollout and help the country to realise its Digital India vision. 5G will serve as a socio-economic multiplier for the country,” says Nunzio Mirtillo, Head of Ericsson South East Asia, Oceania and India. 

Live test 5G network

Airtel and Ericsson have also recently successfully partnered to demonstrate enhanced 5G speed of more than 1Gbps at a live test 5G network at Cyber Hub in Gurgaon. The test uses Airtel’s 3.5 Ghz trial spectrum. 

Additionally, in January 2021, Airtel and Ericsson showcased the dynamic spectrum sharing of 4G and 5G capabilities on a commercially deployed installed base on the 1800MHz frequency in Hyderabad to give Airtel customers their first experience of 5G on a live commercial network. 

Rachael Sharpe

Rachael is a British journalist with 17 years experience in the publishing industry. Since launching, she’s been freelancing, and working for some of the world’s best-loved websites and magazines including and and has also had a book, iPad for Photographers, published. A regular contributor at 5Gradar, Rachael is following the 5G market closely. Find out more at