Airtel chief Sunil Mittal with Park Jung-ho, president and CEO - SK Telecom, in San Francisco on Wednesday. (PTI)
Mumbai, Sept. 13 : Bharti Airtel today threw down the gauntlet at Reliance Jio when it joined hands with South Korea's SK Telecom to build the most advanced network in the country and collaborate to evolve standards for the next generation 5G technology.
The Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio had disrupted the country's telecom ecosystem with its pioneering Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology that offered superior voice and data services.
Airtel's pact with SK Telecom now promises to break the next technology frontier.
The technology rivalry between the telecom players is intensifying at a time telecom regulator Trai is weighing the auctioning of the 5G spectrum band.
Interestingly, the country's largest telecom firm, owned by Sunil Bharti Mittal, inked the pact just two days after Bharti launched its Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services in Mumbai.
SK Telecom is South Korea's largest telecom company with more than 29 million mobile subscribers.
A statement from Bharti Airtel said the strategic partnership with the Korean firm will work across several areas.
In 2015, Bharti Airtel had announced that it would invest Rs 60,000 crore to upgrade its network.
"This partnership will bring a dramatically improved experience to Airtel customers in India by leveraging the expertise of a company that has built one of the best mobile broadband networks in the world," Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said.
At a time when customers are warming up to 4G, Bharti Airtel said the two companies would also collaborate on an on-going basis to evolve standards for 5G and other advanced technologies that include Internet of Things (IoT) and jointly work towards building an enabling ecosystem for the introduction of these technologies in the Indian context.
The capacity to identify, monitor and deliver improvements to the network experience on an individual device basis will be a first in India, helped by SK Telecom's global leadership in this area, the statement said.
Airtel has always looked ahead to bring the latest technology to India, Mittal said.
"SK Telecom will work closely with Bharti to achieve new network innovations so as to deliver a greater value to Bharti's customers," SK Telecom president and CEO Park Jung-ho said.