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DoT To Use 5G Trials To Evaluate Security Vulnerabilities

The telecom department will evaluate 5G trials for security vulnerabilities before taking a final call on the vendors who will be allowed to deploy the next generation airwaves in the country. This means the Chinese telecom equipment makers Huawei and ZTE’s battles with the government are not done and dusted yet and telcos may have trouble fixing their vendors till the final list for deployment is announced.

“Security concerns will always be there, concerns with specific vendors remain and measures will be taken to address them. Each trial will be scrutinized on a case to case basis and specific security concern regarding that trial will be looked into,” said a person aware of the development.

A government official confirmed that the permission given was for trials only and not deployment, which means Huawei and ZTE are not out of the woods yet.

Jay Chen, Huawei India’s CEO though has welcomed the Indian government’s decision to allow all network equipment makers, including Huawei, to participate in 5G trials.

But, celebrations may not be a good bet, yet.

This is the first time that India, caught in a diplomatic and economic tussle between the US and China, has taken an official stance permittng the Chiniese firms. It boosts the Chinese company’s hopes of playing a part in the deployment of the next generation technology in India despite US objections.

But now with multiple sources confirming that permissions have been granted just for technical trials, operators will continue to remain in a limbo on whether they can go ahead and finalse their 5G vendors or not.

“Telcos will continue to be wary before placing their orders with either Huawei or ZTE till official confirmation on deployment is given,” said a telecom analyst who did not want to be named. While Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea work with all vendors, Reliance Jio typically has partnered with Samsung and showcased a driverless car with Ericsson in a conclave.

Some analysts have said that barring the Chinese vendors could mean increasing the cost of 5G for consumers in India by 15-20%, besides a delay in rollout. Huawei is said to be at least a year ahead of its rivals in 5G technology development.

The controversy around the Chinese vendors started when US pressurized its allies and friendly countries, including India, to bar Huawei from 5G deployments, flagging security concerns and citing the company’s alleged proximity to the Chinese government. China has on its part warned India of economic consequences if Huawei was excluded from 5G development and deployments.

Countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Taiwan besides the US are keeping Huawei out of 5G deployments, while others including France, the Netherlands, Russia and South Korea have allowed the Chinese equipment maker to participate.―Newsfeed

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