Chinese company ZTE may make a comeback in India

“The US has given security clearance to ZTE, and there are chances it may get clearance from the Indian government too,” said an industry source.
ZTE building in Beijing, China. (Photo | AP)
ZTE building in Beijing, China. (Photo | AP)

NEW DELHI: Chinese telecom gear maker ZTE may make a comeback in India, according to industry insiders in the know of the matter. They said the US has cleared the Chinese tech giant on safety issues, and soon the company will start taking orders there.

“The US has given security clearance to ZTE, and there are chances it may get clearance from the Indian government too,” said an industry source. After the Galwan Valley clash in 2020, the government announced a national security directive on the telecom sector.

In 2021, the government mandated all telecom service providers to connect to their networks only those new devices that are designated as ‘trusted products’ from ‘trusted sources’. The approval needs to come from the National Cyber Security Coordinator.

Chinese telecom gear makers — Huawei and ZTE — are yet to get that tag of trusted sources. It means Indian telecom companies Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel have to solely depend on companies like Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung for 5G gear.

On Huawei, the source said that the company has not submitted its paper either in the US or in India. India was the first country, which took the lead in banning Chinese equipment makers. It came up with trusted source rules, and actually it (using Chinese telecom gear) stopped. Later, other countries followed.

However, industry sources told this newspaper that there is no use in banning ZTE or Huawei products if they come through unlicensed routes. “Internet service providers are using them to provide Wi-Fi service. The government has only banned networking gears, not mobile phones,” said sources.

It is believed that Huawei and ZTE continue to engage with Indian telecom operators. As per the reports, Vodafone Idea recently granted ZTE a new order worth approximately Rs 230 crore for optical transmission equipment in Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh (MP-CG) as part of network upgrades.

The speculation of their re-entry grew after Shein, a Chinese fashion major made a comeback three years after it was forced to shut its India business. The company is coming through a joint venture with Reliance Industries.

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