US, UK Trade Bodies Urge India to Adopt Global 5G Standards

Even as India considers adopting its version of 5G tech standards, top international trade and technology organizations have urged the Indian authorities to prefer globally accepted 3GPP standards for deploying 5G networks in the country.

What Is 3GPP?

3GPP is a club of seven telecommunications standard development organizations providing telecom protocols and specifications. It has become a leading standards body for the vast majority of mobile systems. According to some estimates, over a billion devices based on 3GPP 5G standards will be globally available by the end of 2021.

These international trade bodies believe that following 3GPP standards will give India the much-needed digital manufacturing push, with many firms queuing up to start their operations in the country. While 5Gi, developed by Telecommunications Standards Development Society India (TSDSI), is cost-effective for rural connectivity, improves spectral efficiency, and reduces spectrum wastage, its alignment with network and spectrum will be an issue. If India goes ahead with 5Gi, it may lose out on manufacturing opportunities at the global level because 144 operators in 61 countries have launched 3GPP-compliant 5G services.

Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), UK India Business Council (UKIBC), US Chamber of Commerce US-India Business Council (USIBC), TechNet, and TechUK are some of the organizations which have asked the Indian government to allow Indian telecom companies to independently select the 5G standards to compete globally.

Reasons behind the Request

These organizations have bolstered the support for 5Gi standards to disrupt the whole next-gen ecosystem, escalate the cost of deployment for telecom operators and create interoperability issues. 3GPP standards discourage global companies from setting up operations in India for local manufacturing.

“By using globally harmonized standards such as those from 3GPP, companies can set up manufacturing operations in India with the confidence that they can easily serve both the Indian market and export to global markets,” the bodies stated in a joint submission letter to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Telecommunications Engineering Centre (TEC).

On the other hand, TSDSI has claimed the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) after a three-year-long evaluation of 5Gi accepted it as a global 5G standard, which has found support from several countries. The international organizations have stressed that constant updates of 3GPP standards may make country-specific standards obsolete.

To drive their argument home, these organizations always want India to join the Quad Emerging Technology Working Group, which includes the US, Japan, Australia, and other bilateral and multilateral partnerships, requiring globally accepted standards for cooperation on next-generation technologies. Also, 3GPP 5G standards will advance the pace of the 5G network rollout in the second most populous nation, giving the government’s “Digital India” initiative the much-needed push.

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