At Mobile World Congress in Shanghai this week, Sunil Bharti Mittal, the founder and chairman of the Indian telco Bharti Airtel and the chairman of the mobile trade group GSMA, made a commitment on behalf of the mobile organization.
“Without going into the controversial net neutrality debate…I can promise you one thing on behalf of the entire community of over 800 operators,” said Mittal. “Mobile operators will never throttle speeds. Mobile operators will never discriminate any service. That is a commitment I can give you on behalf of the entire mobile operator fraternity.”
Mittal went on to say that 5G network slicing could provide a way to manage traffic on mobile networks. “I would say given the power of technology that we are seeing through slicing of the network, which is becoming possible with 5G, it is becoming very important that we have the ability to manage traffic for various applications,” he said. He cited network slicing use cases such as autonomous cars, smart cities, robotic surgeries in hospitals, and music streaming.
Mittal said Bharti Airtel’s mobile network, which covers the entire country of India, comprises about 200,000 base stations. Bharti Airtel is the largest mobile operator in India based on revenue and subscribers. But competition in the country has heated up quite a bit since the entrance of Reliance Jio, which is building a greenfield 4G network in India.
This week, news outlets reported that Reliance Jio has overtaken Vodafone India to become the second largest carrier by revenue in the Indian telecom space. And Reliance Jio is preparing another attack on its Indian competitors, planning to roll out a fiber-to-the-home broadband service later this year.
At Mobile World Congress in Shanghai, Mittal said, billions of people in India and Africa are connected to the internet via mobile with no access to fixed-line internet. “In India, which now boasts of nearly a billion mobile connections, we have less than 37 million connected homes,” he said. “That’s it. The question is: do we really need to get to every home through a wire? Or can our next future technologies take care of wireless broadband going into homes and offices?”