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India's own 5G standard could delay its 5G launch

TSDSI, which develops standards for telecom and ICT products and services in India, has developed the country's own 5G technology standard - 5Gi. But concerns around it are growing louder by the day

twitter-logoManu Kaushik | February 20, 2021 | Updated 00:17 IST
India's own 5G standard could delay its 5G launch

The concerns around India's own 5G technology - TSDSI's 5G Radio Interface Technology (RIT) named 5Gi - are getting louder. In December, global body International Telecommunication Union (ITU) completed the three-year-long evaluation of 5Gi and accepted it as a global 5G standard. However, industry experts are of the view that this standard may slow down the progress of 5G in the country, increase the cost of deployment for the telecom operators, and could create interoperability issues.

In an industry event organised by lobby body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), Sandeep Gupta, EVP (network strategy) at Airtel, said that if India charts its own course, we will be falling behind the global scene.

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"Globally, 500 million 5G smartphones were shipped in 2020, and more are expected to be shipped in 2021. By the end of 2021, as we get towards 5G, over a billion devices based on 3GPP [standards] will be available in the world. We cannot drive the market if we go our own way. We will not even have 300 million 5G smartphones in five years. TEC [Telecom Engineering Centre] should ensure that devices are aligned with the network and spectrum," he said.

5Gi is developed by Telecommunications Standards Development Society India (TSDSI), which is an autonomous organisation that develops standards for telecom and information and communications technology (ICT) products and services in India.

TSDSI's 5Gi standard aims to bridge the rural-urban digital divide in 5G deployment on the back of enhanced coverage. TSDSI claims that its standard has found support from several countries because it addresses their regional needs from a 5G standpoint. 5Gi is expected to be circulated by ITU to its member states for adoption and approval.

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The industry, on the other hand, believes that the 5G deployment in India should be compliant with 3GPP standards. 3GPP is essentially a club of seven telecommunications standard development organisations that provides its members with telecom protocols and specifications. Since the launch of 3G tech, 3GPP has become a dominant standards body globally, and it's the focal point for the vast majority of mobile systems.

Stuart Cooke, Chairman (Spectrum Group) at Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) too said that India must focus on 3GPP standards. Globally, 3GPP defined standards are gaining traction in the 5G space. For instance, 144 operators in 61 countries have launched one more 3GPP-compliant 5G services, and there are 365 commercially available 3GPP 5G devices at the moment.

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