A day after the government said all operators will be allowed to participate in the upcoming 5G trials, the Department of Telecom held a meeting with various service providers and equipment vendors, including Huawei, to discuss the way forward.
The meeting on Tuesday, chaired by Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash, lasted for over an hour. An official with one of the telcos said that all operators attended the meeting. A Huawei executive, who was present at the meeting, declined to comment on the proceedings.
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said the government will allocate airwaves to all telecom service providers for conducting trials of super-fast speed 5G networks. As things stand today, India will not bar any equipment suppliers in the upcoming trials for 5G.
Asked specifically about the status of Huawei in this context, the minister had said, “All players mean all players.” This stance is expected to spell relief for the Chinese gear maker, which is facing curbs in the U.S., and rivals western equipment makers such as Ericsson.
Many countries, however, have allowed telecom service providers to use Chinese gears. And now, India has also indicated its unwillingness to keep any company out of 5G trials. This implies that all operators, backed by equipment vendors they have decided to partner with, will be able to participate in the upcoming 5G trials in the country.
“I would like new innovations by Indian players in 5G. 5G is the future, it is speed. Therefore, we will encourage new innovations in 5G,” the minister had said on Monday on the sidelines of a telecom event. Huawei India Chief Executive Officer Jay Chen had said in an e-mail statement to PTI on Monday that the company firmly believes that only technology innovations and high-quality networks will be the key to rejuvenating the Indian telecom industry.
Thanking the Indian government for their continued faith in the company, Chen had said, “We have our full confidence in the Modi government to drive 5G in India. We have our full confidence in Indian government and industry to partner with best technology for India’s own long-term benefit and also for cross-industry development.” Huawei is committed to India, the company said.
The 5G trials are widely-expected to begin between January and March. Sources had recently said the government has received seven applications for 5G trials and added that all operators and vendors (including Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE and Samsung) are keen to participate.
In September this year, Huawei had said it is hopeful that the Indian government will treat all foreign investments “fairly” and had urged the world’s largest democracy to make an “independent decision” on permitting 5G trials in the country. At that time, the Chinese firm had also sought to assure the Indian government that the company is fully compliant with regulations in India, and of addressing concerns around cybersecurity.
Earlier this year, the U.S. had banned Huawei, the world’s leader in telecom equipment and the number two smartphone producer, over concerns of security and Washington had been pressuring other countries to restrict the operations of the Chinese telecom firm.
The U.S. President Donald Trump-led administration had placed Huawei and its affiliates on a blacklist, a move that banned the Chinese telecom equipment company from purchasing parts and components from American firms without the U.S. government approval. However, it had subsequently relaxed some of the restrictions, to reduce disruption for its customers.―Bloomberg Quint