Some of the biggest stakeholders of India’s telecom industry are opposing the Indian 5G standard, 5Gi. According to a recent report in economic times (ET), Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and top gear makers and chipset companies have termed 5Gi as a “risky” technology. These companies reportedly have given a joint submission to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), where they urged the Telecommunications Engineering Centre (TEC) to conduct theoretical and field level validation of performance gains of 5Gi before taking any call on making it mandatory for 5G deployment in the country. The submission also gives reasons on why 5Gi is not the ideal standard for 5G deployment in India. Here’s why these companies are not in favour of 5Gi.
There has been zero assessment of 5Gi
The companies have termed 5Gi as a “risky” technology and said that their consistent persuasion to conduct an objective assessment of the standard within TSDSI has always met with outright rejection.
No clarity on established gains of 5Gi
“Unfortunately, there are no clear established gains of 5Gi, which are practically validated,” reads the joint submission of the companies to the Department of Technology (DoT).
Any changes in the global 5G standard need to be based on significant gains in cost and performance
As per these companies, the fundamental premise or basis for modification of global 3GPP standard must be based on significant gains in cost, performance and network efficiencies. In 5Gi’s case none has been proved yet. For the uninitiated, 3GPP defines specifications for complete end-to-end cellular systems including the user equipment (or devices), radio access, core network and service framework for mobile telecommunication. The 3GPP technologies have constantly evolved through generations of commercial cellular/mobile systems. The 5G standard acceptable in over 150 countries supports 3GPP.
3GPP 5G radio and radio based on 5Gi are not interoperable
According to these companies, it is a known fact that 3GPP 5G radio and the radio based on 5Gi are non-interoperable. This means that any handset based on 3GPP will not work with 5Gi based infrastructure and vice versa.
International travellers will not be able to use roaming services in India
This will lead to a situation where international travellers having 3GPP-based 5G smartphones will not be able to use roaming services in India as the same is non-interoperable with 5Gi.
Indians travelling abroad with 5Gi handsets will not be able to use roaming abroad
In the same way, Indians travelling abroad with 5Gi-based smartphones will face challenges in using roaming services. As their 5Gi-based smartphone would be non-interoperable with 3GPP-based 5G infrastructure deployed in other countries.
Phone makers like Samsung, Xiaomi and others will need to make hardware changes to their phones
Smartphones based on 3GPP-based specifications would need specific hardware changes to comply with 5Gi based specifications. This means additional costs for smartphone companies selling their devices in India.
5Gi lacks backward and forward compatibility, meaning 5Gi phones will not work on 4G and 6G networks
Another big drawback of 5Gi as per these companies is that in the current form, 5GI specification cannot evolve further without breaking backward compatibility with the products. “Forward compatibility is an essential aspect to any specification evolution process. There is no scope of future releases and new features of 3GPP releases to be added into 5Gi without breaking compatibility with any product (e.g., network, device, test-equipment) based on current 5Gi release,” claims the submission. These companies also claim that 5Gi will not enable them to deploy 3GPP-compliant Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) technology to use the same band for both 4G and 5G radios.