India might be following on the footsteps of United States to bar Chinese telecom companies like Huawei in the country. According to media reports, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has barred Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp from the list of companies allowed to work with local companies in 5G trials.
The reason for exclusion of Huawei and ZTE Corp has been cited as ‘security’ concerns, which sounds similar to a protocol followed by US government early this year. Following US ban on Huawei and ZTE, Australia followed up with similar efforts where the government announced ban on these Chinese telecom companies. Now, Chinese experts say such a move from the Indian government to exclude Huawei and ZTE will only hurt the nation’s telecom industry, which relies on these companies for sourcing telecom equipments.
“We’re cooperating actively with local telecom operators and the Indian government, and local authorities and partners hold an open attitude toward cooperating with us in meeting demand for 5G network construction,” a spokesperson for Huawei told China’s Global Times. The company also confirmed that it is working normally with local telecom players with their 5G field trials while ZTE did not comment on possible India ban.
Huawei is the leading telecom equipment vendor in the world with nearly $100 billion in revenue. The lack of participation from Huawei and ZTE will affect Indian telecom operators, who might eventually request the Indian government to let them in. Telecom industry executives believe a ban on Huawei and ZTE Corp could lead to slow roll out of 5G and increased cost in deployment.
According to Economic Times, the telecom authority has written to other foreign players, including Cisco, Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia to work with domestic players on 5G trials. The government plans to showcase specific use case for 5G at the beginning of 2019 and the wider roll out is expected to happen in late 2019 or early 2020.
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Huawei was not allowed to participate in US telecom companies’ infrastructure development for quite sometime. The US government also blocked the company from selling mobile devices and wireless routers citing security concerns and cyber espionage. Australia recently blocked the company from selling its equipment to support local telecom players in the country.
In the past, India has not had any issues with Chinese players participating in telecom infrastructure but it does block investment in sensitive sectors of the economy. The Department of Telecommunications is yet to offer an official comment but such a ban could affect India’s 5G roadmap and deteriorate the diplomatic relationship between the two countries.