Merging 5Gi and 3GPP 5G: Harnessing the power of Low Mobility Large Cell (LMLC) worldwide

A developing country, like India, still has a majority of population residing in rural areas. It becomes very important for such a country to focus equally on its urban as well as on rural population. With an aim of benefitting its rural population, India introduced the 5Gi standard. The indigenously developed 5Gi standard sets a perfect example of the “Made in India” concept. The standard was a result of joint collaboration between IIT Madras and IIT Hyderabad. It is governed by a body called TSDSI (Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India).

Let’s first talk about the standard itself:

5Gi is actually an advancement, the Indian Contribution, to the recently developed 5G standards providing last mile connectivity. The standard is also known as 5G Radio Interface Technology (RIT). The contribution includes a proposal to use a new test configuration for IMT 2020 evaluation specifically related to rural eMBB environment. There already exists two 3GPP/ITU rural configurations (i.e., Config A : 700 MHz, ISD 1.732km, 120/500 km/h; Config B : 4 GHz, ISD 1.732km, 120/500 km/h). The introduction of the new configuration (Config C: 700 MHz, ISD 6 km, 3/30 km/h) reflects the LMLC (Low Mobility Large Cell) scenario. This LMLC can be explained by just a simple equation:
Now, it is pretty clear from the equation that LMLC has two aspects related to it:
• The first part of the RHS provides the idea of an increased Inter-site distance. LMLC seeks an Inter-site distance (distance between two neighboring base stations) upto 6 km to cover even those areas which still has a weak base station infrastructure. This avoids the need of setting up base stations at short distances.
• The second part of the RHS provides the idea of covering low mobility devices. This is basically related to enhancing the coverage for slowly moving devices in rural areas. An example can be a mobile phone of a person on a cycle.

Basic Technology behind 5Gi:

The 5Gi standard is based on a specific modulation scheme (as proposed by India). This modulation scheme is known as pi/2 BPSK. The modulation scheme when used along with spectrum shaping and DMRS (non-precoded) enhances the coverage for rural areas.

Benefits of 5Gi:

• Enhance 5G coverage for villages with base stations that are available at large distances from each other
• Inter-operability
• Minimal software changes for implementation with existing technologies
• Same effective cost
• Able to achieve High-power level for handsets

Target Population:

• 2020 estimates by the World Bank, reflected a worldwide population of 44.84% still residing in rural areas. India alone has around 65% of its population living in rural areas.
• As per another estimate, in September 2021, the number of Indian mobile users reached a whopping 1.166 billion. The estimate further reflected a 59% rural teledensity in September 2021.
• The Annual Report 2020-21 (by DOT India) stated that a % of rural to overall phones stood at 44.79% in November 2020.

All these stats showcases the number of people residing in rural areas that may be directly affected by the 5Gi standard in India and worldwide (if the standard is adopted by other countries also).

Reaction from the Major Telcos:

Initially, the major telecom companies were concerned about the technology fragmentation that might exist due to separate standards. They also had issues with the additional cost that will be associated with the 5Gi compatible chipsets. Now, considering such a huge size of the India Telecom market, no market player can deny the importance of India and its consumers. The importance of the Indian Market was also highlighted when telecom sector was estimated to achieve a Gross revenue of US$ 8.74 billion (first quarter FY22). Hence, it was obvious to find a middle way out. This resulted in the integration (led by some telecom operators) of the 5Gi standard with 3GPP 5G standard.

What role will merger play?

The merger will ensure compatibility with existing 3GPP specifications. This would mean that interoperability can be achieved and technology fragmentation can be avoided. Another important aspect to be considered is the cost of the equipment which will be lowered due to this merger. It will provide uniformity at the world stage. At the same time, other countries will get a confidence boost to adopt the standard for providing better coverage (by increasing the range) to the rural areas. This will particularly help countries which still cannot afford a dense network of base stations.

Overall, India is looking to touch a billion lives worldwide with its 5Gi standard. Only upcoming times will reveal how the Indian People as well other developing nations will respond to the standard.

Note: At Expertlancing, our team of experts has expertise in 5G data channels and other 5G– related technologies. Please reach out to us for any kind of technology analysis related to 5G and telecom-related technologies.

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