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India Telcos Seek Clarity On Huawei, ZTE From Global Peers, Groups

Indian telecom operators have asked global lobbying groups, data protection firms, telcos and government agencies to state what are there concerns regarding Huawei, ZTE amongst other data security issues.

“We need to know the exact concerns of the other groups and companies so that our operators know what they are dealing with. We wanted to know what are the audits, parameters that need to be applied and they should be done universally,” said Rajan Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) that represents all private players.

The closed-door meeting in Barcelona had members of EU, data protection lobbying bodies, members from Vodafone Group, Huawei , ZTE amongst others. Notably, there was no representative from US government.

“We are dealing with the same companies as well. We need to ensure there is a competitive landscape in equipment otherwise two people can raise prices,” said Mathews on what were the concerns raised by Indian operators.

This is the first time that Indian telcos have raised this issue on a global platform at a time when Huawei and ZTE are embroiled in controversy on allegations of cyber snooping on behalf of the Chinese government.

Indian operators concerns come on the back of recent controversy that some of the Chinese handset makers are using their equipment to spy. Reports have alleged that US lobbying groups may be behind sparking controversies and the largest telecom congregation has had several discussions on it .

On Monday, Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read said that it is an industry topic and Huawei plays an important role in supply chain and concentrating an industry where there are 3 major supply chain firms to two will be unhealthy.

“ If we concentrate down to two players I think that is an unhealthy position. Not just for us as an industry but also national infrastructure in the country. So it is really important to understand that this is a supply chain issue not just for industry but also into governments and how we serve these economies,” Read said in response to security discussions going on in industry with regard to the Chinese telecom gear major.

The company in middle of this controversy is betting big on India. According to reports, Huawei expects India to emerge as the second-largest 5G market in 10 years. The operator’s India CEO Jay Chen has also confirmed that it will be participating in 5G trials in India and is working with all telcos for sale of 5G equipment.

Huawei has come under global scrutiny after the US security concerns regarding 5G equipment, given their perceived proximity to the Chinese government. The US has asked its allies to ban 5G gear from Huawei. Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Australia have acquiesced.

Huawei’s president for the South East Asia region, James Wu, on Sunday told ET that the company hasn’t received any concerns from the India government, but it is ready to talk to all stakeholders in India and engage with them through extensive consultations to allay any security-related concerns.

“Cybersecurity is a technical issue. From the technical perspective 5G will be more secure than 4G,” he added.―India Finance News

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