India’s largest telecom company Reliance Jio announced the launch of its 5G services in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai by Diwali this year, with an aim to expand and cover the entire country by December 2023.
The company said it will launch its 5G services on a “standalone” 5G architecture, against the “non-standalone” approach that other operators are betting on.
What is ‘standalone 5G’ architecture?
- 5G networks are deployed mainly on two modes: standalone and non-standalone.
- In the standalone mode, which Jio has chosen, the 5G network operates with dedicated equipment, and runs parallel to the existing 4G network, while in the non-standalone mode, the 5G network is supported by the 4G core infrastructure.
- The standalone mode provides access to full 5G capabilities and new network functionalities such as slicing that provides greater flexibility to operators to efficiently use their spectrum holdings.
- Non-standalone networks are generally considered to be a stepping stone, and global precedent suggests operators that have launched non-standalone 5G networks eventually transition to standalone networks.
- The non-standalone mode, however, lets operators maximise the utilisation of their existing network infrastructure with relatively lower investment.