Top Indo-US and Indo-UK trade bodies have joined the fight against India’s own 5G standard and opposed its mandatory adoption for the rollout of high-speed internet service in the country.
If made mandatory, the standard could set back vital shared work on “supply chain security, vendor diversification, and alternative network architectures such as Open RAN which will also rely on globally harmonized standards.”
Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), UK India Business Council (UKIBC), U.S. Chamber of Commerce US-India Business Council (USIBC) and US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) wrote a letter to India’s Department of Telecommunications following a recent stakeholders meeting which was attended by Indian telcos, home-grown and multinational gear vendors, chipmakers and handset players.
Following the meeting, the DoT and India’s Telecommunications Engineering Center (TEC) extended the date of inviting public comments on the adoption of 5Gi.
5Gi radio interface technology has been developed by the Telecom Standards Development Society, India (TSDSI) in collaboration with the country’s top IIT professors.
“As TEC considers incorporation of 5Gi as a national standard, we hope that it will also consider the importance of globally harmonized standards for 5G to the success of India’ ICT ecosystem,” the above-mentioned bodies said in a joint letter to the Department of Telecommunications.
“We also ask that, whatever standards are adopted, that the Department of Telecommunications avoid making the use of any one standard mandatory and allow telecommunications service providers to deploy technologies conforming to the standards of their choice,” they said in the letter.
During the last all stakeholders’ meeting, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel raised concerns about the local 5G standard, which it said must be harmonised with the 3GPP’s 5G standard to achieve scale and cost benefits. Both telcos told the officials that the 5Gi should not be made mandatory and be kept optional since it is not harmonised with global standards.
The trade bodies urged the DoT to conduct “appropriate technical due diligence to confirm” the claimed capabilities of 5Gi during its review process.
“We appreciate the commitment between leaders from India, the United States, Japan, and Australia to facilitate coordination on technology standards development and cooperate on telecommunications deployment in the context of the Quad Emerging Technology Working Group. Adopting global specifications for 5G technology is a foundational step toward demonstrating further cooperation on these issues,” the letter read.
Adopting 3GPP’s 5G standards as a national standard will further strengthen India’s status as a manufacturing hub for ICT products and services, the bodies said in their letter.
They added that by using common standards, companies could set up manufacturing operations in India with the confidence that they can easily serve both the Indian market and export to global markets.
3GPP continues to release updated specifications that may diverge from and make obsolete country-specific standards, thereby taking away the economic advantages of leveraging globally harmonized technology standards. This can impact India’s manufacturing ecosystem.
Experts in the letter said that India’s telecommunications network operators would be able to build out networks for rural India at affordable rates with fewer challenges related to system integration and management by leveraging economies of scale achieved through globally harmonized standards and proven technology solutions.
“We appreciate the urgent need for connectivity in rural India, and we believe that the global 5G standards – developed by stakeholders from across the world with a range of both rural and urban use cases in mind – are the best answer to this challenge,” the letter read.
Indian telcos previously raised concerns over performance gain compared to the globally accepted 3GPP standard and other issues.
Bharti Airtel’s CEO Gopal Vittal had already said that the local 5G standard could pose an “existential threat” to the telecom ecosystem in the country, and it could lock India out of the global ecosystem.