India's locally developed next-generation standard, known as 5Gi, has been the cause of some concern among operators, hardware vendors, chipmakers and smartphone manufacturers, many of which were worried that it would be mandatory for 5G deployment in the country. Now it appears that is not going to happen.
In fact, according to Indian news reports, 5Gi is now set to be merged with the 3GPP 5G standard under a compromise formula between the opposing approaches supported by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the country’s Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC).
In a meeting last week, the TEC, which, among other roles, is responsible for the drawing up of standards, made clear its opposition to the idea of the new version of 5G, citing technology fragmentation and interoperability issues. Now there is to be a merger, covered, we are told, by 3GPP Release 17.
The 5G Radio Interface Technology (RIT) initiative – known as 5Gi – seems to have largely originated from the Telecommunications Standards Development Society, an autonomous, membership-based, standards development organization with a focus on meeting India-specific telecom/ICT needs, based on research and innovation in India.
There had, however, been intense pushback from the telecommunications industry, led by such major names as Qualcomm, Ericsson, Nokia and Huawei, along with local industry group the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).
There had been hopes from some of its proponents that 5Gi standards would be made mandatory for Indian telecom service providers. However, with no 5Gi ecosystem developed, let alone tested, operators, and inevitably consumers, might suffer the consequences of limited equipment options.
In fact it’s hard to see how an untried India-specific standard could be positive news for international roaming, let alone chipsets, phones and networks. However, this may no longer be an issue.
The details of the standards merger are not too clear yet, but it does now seem as though 5Gi will not be pursued – at least not in the form originally intended.