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India Rolls out 5G Trials, Chinese Companies Excluded

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) finally gave the go ahead to Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) for conducting trials for 5G technology.

The shortlisted service providers include Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone-Idea, and MTNL. The original equipment manufacturers and technology providers approved are Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and C-DOT. Reliance Jio will be conducting trials using its own technology.

What was immediately noticeable was the exclusion of the world’s largest 5G equipment manufacturer Huawei from the approvals. Earlier, Union telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had announced that 5G trials will be done with all vendors and operators when asked about Huawei.

Huawei – A Concern for India Since Long

The Huawei factor has been a point of concern for the government of India for a while.

In December 2010, the Indian government had barred local mobile phone operators from making deals with Chinese telecommunications manufacturers. It told the operators that it was worried that a foreign company could install spying software, though it had not specifically named China at that time. Also, in 2014, India had undertaken an investigation into alleged hacking of state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited servers by Huawei.

As cyber security analysts Arindrajit Basu and Justin Sherman wrote in March 2021 for The Diplomat, Chinese technological presence and investments in India have found India an uphill battle post the Galwan Valley border clashes last year. They also alluded to the joint statement of the Quad leaders which had called for cooperation on critical technologies.

Not Just India – Other Countries Facing Problems

Other countries too are concerned about Huawei. Its CEO’s daughter, Meng Wanzhou has been facing an extradition trial while held up in Canada, as she is accused of doing business in Iran despite US sanctions.

Huawei faces charges in the United States of stealing technology from a host of US companies and making false statements to the FBI additionally. The United Kingdom, Australia, Sweden have banned Huawei, while countries like Canada and the European Union have enabled legislations limiting the company’s access to the ‘core network’.

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