India Prohibits Local Telecom Operators From Purchasing Huawei and ZTE Equipment

According to foreign media, on Wednesday local time, informed sources revealed that the Indian government is currently overturning the previous licensing conditions to prohibit local telecom operators from purchasing network "key equipment" from Chinese enterprises, including Huawei and ZTE. This will prevent Huawei and ZTE from participating in 5g testing and deployment in India

According to Indian media et Telecom, on Wednesday local time, a senior Indian official who participated in relevant discussions revealed that in the past few weeks, officials of the Indian Telecommunications Department (DOT) have been discussing with security agencies and other departments on the scope of banning equipment from China.

Screenshot from et Telecom web page

"Is it necessary to disable all equipment from China or restrict only key equipment used in the network?" the official said that the move was part of the New Delhi government's latest effort to prevent Huawei and ZTE from participating in 5g testing and deployment in India.

It is reported that as India's 5g spectrum auction is scheduled to be held from January to March 2021, and now the deadline is approaching, there is no answer to the discussion of the above questions. "We should clarify the situation and make a decision as soon as possible," an official said.

Another official said that the reason for the delay was "how to define key equipment". He said that with more and more convergence and the emergence of new technologies such as 5g, the boundary between the two has become blurred, so it is difficult to define "key equipment". This is different from 2G and 3G networks. The difference between them can be clearly distinguished.

At the same time, the Indian government is also considering revising the license conditions to force Indian telecom companies to accelerate the elimination of Chinese equipment in the next few years. Due to the high cost, the specific service life will be determined after consultation between the telecommunications sector and private telecommunications operators.

The decision raised concerns among local operators. One operator said: "the cost of eliminating telecom equipment of Chinese companies is very high, and it will take at least two to three years. In addition, the additional cost of replacing equipment is not small, which should be solved (by the Indian government)."

Previously, the telecom industry also made it clear that replacing Chinese suppliers with suppliers such as Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung may increase the deployment cost of local telecom companies by 15-20%.

The report said that after vigorous lobbying by the United States, the Indian government also began to join the "boycott Huawei" camp and repeatedly stressed that "using Huawei and ZTE equipment may threaten network data security", but did not give specific evidence. Previously, the New Delhi government has prohibited state-owned operators bsnl and mtnl from purchasing equipment from Huawei and ZTE, but so far, private telecom operators have not been explicitly required or instructed to prohibit the purchase of equipment from Huawei and ZTE.

In fact, earlier this month, Indian interior minister Ajay Kumar Bhalla said that the New Delhi government had not stated its position on allowing Chinese telecom companies to conduct 5g testing or deployment. He said that the penetration of network equipment from Chinese suppliers into India's existing networks was too extensive.

"If India does not have the option to replace Chinese equipment, it cannot completely prohibit and prohibit operators from using these equipment. However, the government has the absolute right to take special safeguard measures to avoid potential hazards to ensure the security of the national communication system, even by banning the use of some products. This can also be regarded as part of our plan to develop self-reliance "Work hard," Bhalla said.

As of press time, Huawei and ZTE had no public comment on the matter.

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