NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and top hardware manufacturers and chipset suppliers have called India’s 5G, 5Gi standard “at risk” technology and said their constant persuasion to conduct an objective and holistic assessment of the standard within TSDSI was met with outright rejection.

In their joint submission to the Department of Telecommunications, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, ZTE, Altiostar, Mavenir and Mediatek urged TEC to perform desk verification and validation performance in the field. gains of the 5Gi standard before taking any call to make it mandatory for the deployment of 5G in the country.

The DoT recently invited the public to comment on the adoption of 5Gi towards IMT 2020 as a national standard by the Telecommunications Engineering Center (TEC). The deadline for submitting comments was August 15, 2021.

“Unfortunately, there are no clearly established gains from 5Gi, which are practically validated,” they said in their submission.

These companies have stated that it is a universally recognized fact that the premise or fundamental basis for modifying the global 3GPP standard, in an exceptional situation, must be based on significant gains in terms of cost, performance and performance. network efficiency (spectrum, power, etc.).

“Although improving rural coverage was the fundamental premise for making these changes to 3GPP, it quickly ended up changing additional aspects that were unrelated to the low mobility wide coverage scenario for rural coverage. . Plus, none of these performance gains have yet been proven on a commercial scale, ”they said.

They added that it is well established that 3GPP 5G radio and 5Gi based radio are not interoperable meaning that any handset based on 3GPP based implementation will not work with 5Gi based infrastructure and vice versa. .

Additionally, it will cause a challenge in international roaming for subscribers who have 3GPP based 5G smartphones to roam India with 5Gi based implementation. The companies added that Indian customers with 5Gi-based smartphones will face challenges as they move around the world, as their 5Gi smartphone would not be interoperable with the 3GPP-based 5G infra deployed in more than 150 countries. country.

Global handsets based on the 3GPP specification would need a hardware change to comply with the 5Gi based specification, so handset manufacturers would incur additional costs for the same, making the new specification based bias. 5Gi at a higher cost than 3GPP based devices shipped worldwide.

“It would also cause delays in the availability of these 5Gi-based biases, as OEMs would have to redesign and establish separate production lines for these new biases. Overall this would lead to delays and higher costs, which defeats the goals of lowering the cost of 5G for consumers in India, ”they added.

“The non-interoperability between 5Gi and 3GPP will necessitate the need for dedicated licensed spectrum for both technologies. This would require additional investments on the part of operators, those who wish to deploy 5Gi and 3GPP, ”said private actors.

The TSDSI, however, strongly refutes the claims of carriers, vendors and chipset players. “5G handsets only require minor firmware and software changes to become 5G + 5Gi handsets, which will not result in any increase in costs, as some handset solution vendors and operators have confirmed,” said Bhaskar Ramamurthi, director of IIT Madras and former president. TSDSI and the main promoter of 5Gi.

He added that “carrier-specific” changes have been implemented previously by vendors, as modems have region-specific needs such as bands, power levels, and dual SIMs, which involve material modifications. “Considering the size of the Indian market in terms of the number of (mobile) connections and growth rate, the initial development cost of these changes is modest as it will pay off very quickly.”

Private telecommunications companies have said that the draft TEC standard, also known as 5Gi, relies heavily on the 3GPP Rel-15 5G NR specifications, albeit using an older version of the latter.

“This is because the TSDSI 5Gi completely relies on the specifications developed by the 3GPP for its fundamental aspects, on which TSDSI made unilateral technical changes leaving it incompatible with the specifications of the foundation,” they said.

“This was also evident when TSDSI officially informed ITU-R WP 5D that technical changes had been applied to some 3GPP specifications when creating their candidate technology submission. Due to the incompatibility between the 3GPP and TSDSI specifications, the ITU-R classified them as two independent technology candidates on the basis of their respective standards, ”they said in their submission.

Telecom operators and vendors have warned that the lack of technical completeness and ambiguity of 5Gi specifications in describing protocols, compliance, etc. consumer adoption of technology.

TEC, as SSO for India, is expected to ensure that the national standards it creates are comprehensive, error-free and enforceable for the creation of a meaningful ecosystem and transparent deployment of telecommunications networks, they added.

The evolution of the draft TEC (5Gi) standard inevitably depends on a small group of members within TSDSI, the telecom operators and the supplier said, adding that the local standard is heavily dependent on future 3GPP specifications, which is an area of ​​concern noted and recognized by the 3GPP PCG meeting at their April 2021 meeting.

“Therefore, with specifications limited by a pre-Rel-15 version of 3GPP, there is no guarantee or confidence with the industry that it would continue to evolve seamlessly. Interoperability is also not possible with 3GPP standards, ”they added.

Explaining the implications, the companies said that in the current form, the current 5GI draft specification cannot evolve further without breaking backward compatibility with products if it is built on the basis of 5Gi specifications.

“Backward compatibility is an essential aspect of any specification evolution process. There is no scope for future versions and new features of 3GPP versions to be added in 5Gi without breaking compatibility with any product (eg network, device, test equipment) based on the current 5Gi version.

Telecom operators have also claimed that 5Gi will not allow them to deploy 3GPP-compatible dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) technology to use the same band for 4G and 5G radios, making their 5G service unsustainable.

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