Ericsson noted in a recent mobility report that Indian operator Reliance Jio celebrated the end of 2023 by completing fastest and largest nationwide 5G standalone (5G SA) roll out outside of China.

Jio said has deployed more than 1 million 5G cell sites to deploy the cloud native SA network, which accounts for more than 85% of India’s deployed 5G capacity. Jio used networking equipment from Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung for the roll out.

According to Ericsson, the reason Jio chose to deploy a pure 5G SA network rather than a non-standalone (NSA) 5G network — despite the nascent state of the 5G SA ecosystem so far — was to build a network that was ready for the future.

“Jio foresees growing demand for the inherent capabilities for 5G SA networks such as low latency, massive machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and network slicing,” Ericsson’s report noted.

Already, “the wide deployment of 5G SA on mid-band spectrum and carrier aggregation has driven substantial growth in data consumption. Jio’s monthly total network data traffic has experienced a 29 percent year-over-year growth,” said the report. (See the chart below.)

Jio has already created a dedicated slice on the cloud-native 5G SA network to serve its 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) customers, the Economic Times reported.

So the Indian mobile network operator is ahead of many North American and European operators in terms of rolling out applications like network slicing on 5G SA networks. T-Mobile and Verizon have started network slicing trials on their 5G SA networks.

Dave Bolan, research director at Dell’Oro Group, noted in an email to Silverlinings that “Jio has pretty much finished its build-out…and the 5G core is supplied by Jio Platform, a sister company.”

Crucially, Bolan noted that “most new 5G phones” such as latest Apples, Samsungs and Pixels will work on the 5G SA network.

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