Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea Limited, top telecom gear makers and chipset vendors have termed the Indian 5G standard, 5Gi, as a risky technology and added that their consistent persuasion to conduct an objective and holistic assessment of the standard within Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India (TSDSI) was met with outright rejection.

These stakeholders voiced their concerns after the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had recently invited public comments on adoption of 5Gi towards IMT 2020 into national standard by the Telecommunications Engineering Center (TEC).

In their joint submission to the DoT, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, ZTE, Altiostar, Mavenir and Mediatek urged the TEC to conduct theoretical verification and field level validation of performance gains of the 5Gi standard before taking any call to make it mandatory for 5G deployment in the country. In addition, these companies said that it is a universally acknowledged fact that the fundamental premise or basis for the modification of the global 3GPP standard, in an exceptional situation, must be based on significant gains in cost, performance and network efficiencies.

While enhancing the rural coverage was the fundamental premise in making those modifications to the 3GPP, it soon ended up modifying additional aspects that had no relevance to the low-mobility large-coverage scenario for rural coverage. Moreover, any of these performance gains are yet to be proven on a commercial scale, they said. According to them it is well established that 3GPP 5G radio and the radio based on 5Gi are non-interoperable, which means, any handset based on 3GPP based implementation will not work with 5Gi based infrastructure and vice versa. It would also lead to delays in availability of such 5Gi based skews as the OEMs would have to re-design and establish separate production lines for these new skews. Overall, it would lead to delays and higher cost, which is contrary to the objectives of driving down the cost of 5G for consumers in India. Non interoperability between 5Gi and 3GPP will necessitate the need for a dedicated licensed spectrum for both technologies. This would call for additional investment from operators, those who wish to deploy 5Gi and 3GPP.