Jio, Airtel, Vodafone Idea want 5Gi to be merged with 3GPP standard; urge India to maintain technology neutral stance

Telcos through their representative body COAI said that making 5Gi a partof 3GPP standard or global 5G standard can ensure early adoption byoperators without any policy intervention and all stakeholders can reap thebenefits of economies of scale.


NEW DELHI: Indian telecom operators --Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea -- have yet again dialled the Indian government urging it to continue with its its technology neutral approach for the adoption of 5G technology and suggested that efforts can be made for global harmonization of 5Gi standards by making it part of 3GPP.Telcos through their representative body COAI said that making 5Gi a part of 3GPP standard or global 5G standard can ensure early adoption by operators without any policy intervention and all stakeholders can reap the benefits of economies of scale.

The COAI’s letter to the DoT secretary coincides with the department’s move to form a committee to devise a strategy for commercialization and monetisation of 5G and domestically developed 5Gi technologies.

The Telecommunication Engineering Center (TEC) is currently goingthrough public consultations on 3GPP Rel-15 and 5Gi standards.“With regard to the adoption of 5Gi, it is to be noted that the ecosystem forthis is yet to be developed, validated & fully tested. Even if the telcos wantto test the 5Gi standard during the on-going trials, this is not possible as no devices for this standard are available. You would appreciate thatvendors work on the principle of economies of scale for development ofequipment,” Lt. Gen Dr. SP Kochhar, Director General of COAI said in aletter to telecom secretary, K. Rajaraman.The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) represents RelianceJio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea along with telecom vendors

like Nokiaand Ericsson.Kochhar reiterated that chipsets for 5Gi are yet to be developed and evenif vendors agree to develop chipsets for 5Gi, it will take around 1-3 yearsto develop them and that too at a very high cost as these will be used onlyin India given that the standard is not globally harmonized, hence not

“This may put the consumer at a burden if sufficient options are notavailable for device procurement as also the operators will have toundergo additional constraints in validating technologies that areuncommon,” he said.COAI said that mandating a technology/ standard for rural, that relies onhigher cost devices and additional capex investments would not be notjustified, especially when an existing affordable globally harmonizedtechnology solves the same problem/ provides better results.During the ongoing 5G trials, Bharti Airtel and Ericsson demonstrated athroughput of 200 Mbps at an inter-site distance of 20 kms in ruralscenarios using 3GPP compliant network elements and user terminals.

“This far exceeds the claimed throughput of 18 Mbps with 12 kms inter-sitedistance by 5Gi, which is only through a simulated test as no field trialscould be conducted using 5Gi,” Kochhar said.The body said that its members are also supportive of India centricapproach to innovation and want the 5Gi standard to be available to themfor consideration for adoption only when it is "interoperable, implementableand has benefits for entire Indian 5G networks."“Hence, it is necessary to have global harmonization of 5Gi standardsspecifications. We recommend efforts towards making the solutioncomponents of 5Gi part of 3GPP, especially since the variation in thisversus the globally harmonized standards specification would have adirect impact on making the specifications viable for commercialdeployment without fragmenting the ecosystem,” Kocchar said.

COAI argued that India’s technology neutral approach has helped operators to deploy any of the available globally harmonized technologies, thereby making services affordable by driving down the cost of network and devices.

Globally harmonized standards benefits Indian consumers by providing “world class affordable” services. “ Therefore, principally, National Standards for India should be globally harmonized and leverage global economies of scale both for network & smartphones,” COAI said, adding that standards must enable international roaming & interoperability across networks deployed globally and must also enable ready to use ecosystems of both networks and smartphones.