Adopting India-specific standards for 5G was an existential threat that could lock the country out of the global ecosystem, MD & CEO (India and South Asia) of Bharti Airtel Gopal Vittal on Tuesday observed and called for embracing the global 5G standards and a predictable policy environment for the success of ‘Digital India’.
“There is sometimes talk of India having its own 5G standards. This is an existential threat which could lock India out of a global ecosystem and slow down the pace of innovation. We would have let our citizens down if you allow that to happen,” he said at the India Mobile Congress 2020.
Drawing a comparison with GSM and CDMA technologies, Mr. Vittal said CDMA was a better technology but GSM won between the two as it was a more accepted technology and more companies in the world embraced GSM. “So, GSM won because it became part of the global ecosystem and CDMA died.”
Mukesh Ambani’s observation
The comments follow the speech by Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani earlier in the day, hinting at 5G launch in the second half of 2021. “Jio will pioneer the 5G revolution in India in the second half of 2021” powered by indigenous-developed network, hardware and technology components, he said.
Mr Vittal stressed, “We must have an open ecosystem. In the technology world, standards are what make an ecosystem,” adding that there was need to create an open India ecosystem and promote applications development for India and by India.
“For this we have to come together. We have to set aside our differences and be part of one, the private sector -- telcos, equipment players, device players, manufacturing companies, IT companies, everyone can benefit as the growth of technology makes us all more productive. So we should collectively sign on to create a 5G ecosystem,” he said.
To deliver the vision of ‘Digital India’, there was need for enabling policies that keep the access to technology affordable. “Affordable and easy access to lay out fiber, which are the nerves of a Digital India, affordable spectrum that allows us to invest in building networks that India deserves”, he said.
“...If we as a country can embrace global standards, create an open ecosystem for India and leverage this to reimagine our businesses by having a single and predictable policy environment, the entrepreneurial energy of India will develop ‘Digital India’,” he concluded.