Tata Consultancy Services and seven Indian Institute of Technology institutions and a host of domestic tech companies, including Saankhya Labs and Tejas Networks, have written to the Department of Telecom (DoT) supporting adoption of India’s own version of 5G tech standards.

Called Telecom Standards Development Society of India (TSDSI) standard for radio interface technology or 5Gi in short, it has been developed by IIT Hyderabad and IIT Madras.

“We believe that considering adoption of 5Gi standards is an important step towards Atmanirbhar Bharat. Hence, TCS supports the national adoption of 5Gi standards,” K Ananth Krishnan, Executive Vice-President and Chief Technological Officer, TCS said in a communication to DoT’s nodal agency, Telecommunications Engineering Centre. The Tata group has announced its intention to enter the 5G hardware space using open source platforms. If the 5Gi gets adopted, TCS could combine it with the open network hardware to offer a fully ‘Made in India’ 5G solution.

Experts believe that 5Gi is a better option for setting up rural connectivity as it is cost-effective, improves spectral efficiency and reduces spectrum wastage of up to 11 per cent compared to its global counterpart, the 3GPP approved 5G standard.

The Telecommunications Engineering Centre had released a paper seeking public comments by various members of the ecosystem on the adoption of 5Gi. “Adopting a national standard will bring India to the global technology table in the telecom sector, and will pave the way for a broader technology revolution in the country,” said Mythili Vutukuru, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay.

Divided opinion

However, existing telecom operators and equipment vendors are not in favour of adopting the local standard. Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm and others say 5Gi is yet to show any of these performance gains at a commercial scale. According to them, 5Gi is a risky technology that will trigger mass device hardware changes, increase 5G smartphone costs, pose interoperability challenges, and hurt the 5G business case in India.