Jio and Airtel against 5Gi standard; 2 GHz of mid-band needed for India 5G demand

Indian telecom operators have informed the India Department of Telecommunications (DoT) that the so-called Indian component of the ITU 5G RAN recommendation M.2150 (Low Mobility Large Cell/LMLC or 5Gi), doesn’t have a device ecosystem and it should only be considered as optional and non-mandatory for the telecom industry.  They said that making the 5Gi standard mandatory would increase prices of smartphones.


TSDSI’s 5G Radio Interface Technology, referred to as LMLC or “5Gi” cleared the rigorous processes of  International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and has been approved by ITU-R WP 5D and then ITU-R SG5 as a part of Draft Recommendation M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] in its meeting held on 23rd November 2020.  That recommendation was approved by ITU-R as recommendation M.2150 early this year.

5Gi, the first  ever Mobile Radio Interface Technology contribution from India to become part of ITU-R’s  IMT recommendation, went through a rigorous evaluation process of the ITU-R working groups over the past 3 years before getting the approval.

This standard is a major breakthrough for bridging the rural-urban digital divide in 5G deployment due to enhanced coverage. It enables connecting majority of India’s villages through towers located at gram panchayats in a cost effective manner. It has found support from several countries as it addresses their regional needs from a 5G standpoint.

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 telecom equipment vendors, told the department that 5Gi doesn’t have a device ecosystem and efforts to be made as part of 3GPP [1.].

Note 1. That is a false assertion as TSDSI, which is a member of 3GPP, presented its 5Gi/LMLC to ITU WP 5D as a Radio Interface Technology (RIT) for IMT 2020. After numerous contributions and tests, it was accepted as an integral part of ITU-R recommendation M.2150.  LMLC was not contributed to 3GPP for inclusion in their 5G Releases 15 and 16.


“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 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 harmonized.  Globalization will help in lowering the cost of devices and achieving scale. It will also make India an export hub for 5G handsets. Harmonization with 3GPP is crucial even as there is substantial progress for 5Gi with the ITU,” Kochhar said.

Responding to ET’s queries, Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director IIT Madras, former Chair-TSDSI and Chief proponent of 5Gi said that 5G handsets require only minor firmware and software changes to become 5G+5Gi handsets, which will not lead to any increase in costs as confirmed by some handset solution providers and operators.

“Even earlier, “operator specific” changes have been implemented by the vendors – example – modems have region specific requirements such as bands, power levels and Dual SIM which involve hardware changes. Also, given the scale of the Indian market in terms of no. of connections and growth rate, the initial development cost of making these modifications, modest as it is, will get amortized very quickly,” Ramamurthi added.

“We should not see a situation where the industry is stuck. If 5Gi gets harmonized 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 India’s government must make efforts for global harmonization of 5Gi standards by making it part of 3GPP [2].

Note 2.  This assertion is also completely wrong. 3GPP is NOT a standards body.  All of their specs must be transposed by it’s member standards bodies (e.g. ETSI, ATIS, etc) or ITU-R to be considered as standards.  TSDSI took their 5Gi/LMLC directly to ITU-R WP-5D which accepted it as part of the first official 5G RAN standard-  ITU-R M.2150. Any harmonization of 5G standards must occur in ITU-R WP-5D and NOT 3GPP.


Samsung, which is the sole 4G equipment provider for Jio and India’s second largest smartphone brand, also supported telcos’ demand for a harmonized 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.

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 India DoT to identify and incorporate in NFAP [3] the entire C band 3.3-4.2 GHz, mmWave 24.25-29.5 Ghz, 37 GHz along with E and V bands.

Note 3. The NFAP is a central policy roadmap that defines future spectrum usage by all bodies in India, including DoT, the Department of Space and the defense ministry.


Closing Comment:

It’s very disappointing that after all of TSDSI’s efforts to get 5Gi/LMLC included in the 1st official IMT 2020 RIT/SRIT standard (ITU-R M.2150) they couldn’t convince India telecom carriers or global equipment/chip vendors to endorse 5Gi/LMLC.



Reliance jio: Jio joins Airtel in fight against 5Gi standard; says 2 GHz in mid-band needed for India 5G demand, Telecom News, ET Telecom (

IMT 2020.SPECS approved by ITU-R but may not meet 5G performance requirements; no 5G frequencies (revision of M.1036); 5G non-radio aspects not included

India’s TSDSI candidate IMT 2020 RIT with Low Mobility Large Cell (LMLC) for rural coverage of 5G services

India’s Success in 5G Standards; IIT Hyderabad & WiSig Networks Initiatives

TSDSI’s 5G Radio Interface spec advances to final step of IMT-2020.SPECS standard

Reliance Jio claim: Complete 5G solution from scratch with 100% home grown technologies

Executive Summary: IMT-2020.SPECS defined, submission status, and 3GPP’s RIT submissions


Indian telcos propose year-long 5G field trials which begin this June!

India’s major mobile operators have both submitted proposals to conduct year-long field trials of 5G services.  Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio Infocomm – along with technology partners including Cisco, Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia – have submitted detailed proposals to the Department of Telecom, the Economic Times reported.

The Indian mobile network operators are now awaiting approvals, and it is expected to take an additional initial three months to complete preparations and clearances, the Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) told the publication. COAI is the industry body that represents Vodafone Idea, Airtel and Jio.


Telcos, vendors seek government nod for a year-long spectrum for 5G field trials


But the Department of Telecom has previously expressed a reluctance to allocate airwaves for 5G trials beyond a 90 day window, which the industry believes would be way too short of a time to conduct the required trials.  The India government has not taken any decision yet on the duration, a contentious issue for airwaves allocation.

According to COAI, the industry is expected to finally reach an agreement with the DoT on the duration of the proposed allocations, as well as other issues.  The Telecommunications Regulator of India has recommended the 3.5-GHz frequency range be used for 5G, and aims to complete an initial 5G auction early next year.

The much-awaited network trial for 5G services in India is scheduled to start this June, with a Telecom Ministry panel recommending spectrum for the test run to the incumbent telcos for a three-month period.  The panel which deliberated on the quantum and duration of the spectrum trial has recommended 5G spectrum to Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio initially for three months, which can be scaled up to one year in case they need more time for network stabilisation.

The three equipment vendors who have got the green signal from the panel are Samsung, Nokia and Ericsson, sources said.

The allocation will take place in the next 15 days and telcos could start intial 5G run in June itself. The network trial licenses will be issued in a few days’ time.