Indian telcos, vendors and chipmakers met the DoT Secretary last week for stakeholder consultation on the 5G ecosystem. The meeting was also attended by members from academia, ICEA, TSDSI, CDoT and chipmakers.
During the meeting, an Airtel representative told the secretary that 5Gi is not globally harmonized and will lead to costly devices and delays in rollout.
Reliance Jio representative also urged the department to avoid mandating any requirements for consumer devices for spectrum, features etc., as they are market driven. “No minimum technology specifications approach for 5G devices,” the company said as per the minutes of meetings accessed by ET.
COAI, which represents telcos and gear vendors, told the department that 5Gi doesn’t have a device ecosystem and efforts to be made as part of 3GPP.
“There will be implications if there is a separate handset production line for India which then can increase prices. We have sought clarification. It is claimed that there will be minor tweaks in handsets,” COAI director general S P Kochhar separately told ET.
Bharti Airtel once again raised the device ecosystem related issue with the department and said that 5G devices are required to support in all licensed bands auctioned in India including 2100 MHz, 1800 MHz in both standalone and non-standalone 5G modes.
“Handsets must support NSA Carrier Aggregation and Dynamic Spectrum Sharing in FDD and TDD spectrum bands,” Airtel said, adding that devices should also be capable of transmitting “26 dBm” both in NSA and SA modes.
Telecom operators reiterated the need for affordable 5G handsets to drive the uptake of high-speed service upon commercial availability. The cheapest 5G device is currently available at Rs 15,000 but only supports N78 band or the mid-band.
During the meeting, the COAI said that 5G standards should support both consumers, industry, and the Indian government must play a facilitating role.
“We are most happy if the local 5G standard is globally harmonised. Globalisation will help in lowering the cost of devices and achieving scale. It will also make India an export hub for 5G handsets. Harmonisation with 3GPP is crucial even as there is substantial progress for 5Gi with the ITU,” Kochhar said.
“We should not see a situation where the industry is stuck. If 5Gi gets harmonised then it is a win-win situation. Otherwise the cost to the subscriber will be high,” Kochhar added.
The Jio representative also supported the technology neutral approach for 5G and suggested that the government must make efforts for global harmonization of 5Gi standards by making it as part of 3GPP.
Samsung, which is the sole 4G equipment provider for Jio and India’s second largest smartphone brand, also supported telcos’ demand for harmonised 5Gi standard during the meeting.
Both Jio and Airtel reiterated their demand for lowering the reserve price for 5G spectrum.
“Current pricing of mid-band spectrum is unrealistic,” Jio said, supporting the need to seek the reserve price from TRAI for all 5G spectrum bands for auction with a clear request that the reserve price be kept reasonable in order to meet the 5G proliferation goals.
ET on Monday reported that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will seek a fresh base price from the telecom regulator for the 3300-3750 MHz as well as floor prices for other bands that can support 5G.
Jio also urged the department to make available 2 GHz of mid-band spectrum to meet the demands of 2025-2030 timeframe. Airtel, on the other hand, asked the government to auction spectrum in mmWave band along with mid band and 600 MHz band and earmark them for 5G.
Jio has also asked the department to identify and incorporate in NFAP the entire C band 3.3-4.2 GHz, mmWave 24.25-29.5 Ghz, 37 GHz along with E and V bands.