NEW DELHI: Chinese telecom major Huawei is among those hopefuls seeking Centre’s approval to conduct 5G trials in India. Sources reveal that the communications equipment giant, considered a security threat by some, has submitted applications in partnership with both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to conduct 5G trials in Bengaluru and Delhi respectively.
“Yes, Huawei is one of the applicants… All major telcos have applied for similar permissions in various cities and in partnership with companies like ZTE, Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia,” said a person in the know of things.
Wednesday (January 15) was the last day for submission of applications and the Department of Telecom (DoT) is expected to take a decision on the proposals soon.
According to sources, the Jio-Samsung combine seeks to conduct trials in Mumbai while BSNL has partnered with ZTE. Airtel and VIL have both submitted separate applications in partnership with Nokia and Ericsson for different circles, apart from their trials with Huawei.
The Cellular Operators Association of India welcomed the interest from industry majors for the highly-awaited trials, with director general Rajan Mathews saying that the government “is keen to” get the ball rolling and that the DoT would review the applications and proposed use-cases for compliance before giving approvals. The licenses for the trials will be given to the telecom operators.
While sources say that DoT permissions are likely to be given by February this year on a case by case basis, many sections have raised concerns over the security implications of allowing Huawei access to India’s 5G infrastructure, stating that this may be used to promote Chinese interests.
A senior industry executive said that one of the problems is the pricing at which Huawei can offer services, which is likely to be cheaper than its competitors and may leave it in control of the crucial sector. Some countries like Australia and Japan have actually barred Huawei from participation in their 5G networks, while it faces scrutiny in many other countries. India, for its part, has not done so yet despite pressure from the United States, and had only recently decided to allow the firm to apply along with its rivals for 5G trials.