Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei is confident that it will be allowed by the government to participate in 5G rollouts in India, even though the final call by the former is yet to be taken. The financial stress in the telecom industry, however, is a challenge for the firm as the CapEx has reduced as compared to the last few years. Huawei India CEO Jay Chen spoke to FE’s Kiran Rathee about the various issues concerning the telecom sector. Excerpts:
Have you got any clarity from the government regarding Huawei’s participation in 5G trials and rollouts?
Until today, we have our confidence and you know why? I have very close engagements with the Indian government, industry and my customers. I have my trust with them. They also show their trust and confidence for Huawei. Communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad mentioned during the inauguration of India Mobile Congress (IMC) that India welcomes leading technology.
What kind of communication are you having with your headquarters in China regarding the 5G issue and how confident are they? Is there a Plan B ready in case India denies permission?
We have received full support and confidence from the government during our nearly 20 years of operations in India. Over these years Huawei has carried out extensive and intensive cooperation with the government and local operators, bringing innovative, industry-first, secure and reliable products that have helped build advanced and secure connection services in India. We are fully confident of our India prospects. There is no Plan B. We have a long-term strategy for India and are invested in India for the long run with the most localised overseas presence. We see huge potential in this market and are optimistic of our growth here.
What kind of business opportunities are you witnessing in India, as 5G is yet to take off and investments in 4G networks are almost over by telecom operators?
4G deployment is still going on. We also have partnerships with our customers to apply 5G-led technology into their existing network. The challenge is that the whole industry is struggling with a financial crisis. The CapEx is much reduced as compared to previous years. This is the challenge.
There were reports that Huawei will not invest further in manufacturing in India if it is denied permission for 5G rollouts. What is your take on that?
My message is very consistent. My local manufacturing will depend on my business. Currently, I am seriously studying the new policy of the government to encourage local manufacturing.
Have you started manufacturing 5G equipment in India?
5G equipment manufacturing is currently happening in China, not in India, because there is no 5G here.
Can you do it for exports?
My local manufacturing first meets my local requirements. Before the 5G business, I don’t have the 5G manufacturing in India.―Financial Express