India’s telecom minister said local carriers are free to select their preferred telecom vendors
The government of India confirmed that it is not currently studying any proposal to ban telecom gear and equipment made by Chinese vendor Huawei, Indian press reported.
“At present, there is no proposal before the government considering banning telecom gear and equipment made by Huawei,” telecom minister Manoj Sinha said.
A number of countries including the U.S., Japan, Canada, the U.K., Germany, Australia and New Zealand have already taken certain steps to block or limit purchases of network equipment from Huawei and ZTE, over security allegations.
Last month, India’s telecom export body TEPC requested that national security advisor Ajit Doval move to ban the purchase of equipment from Chinese companies like Huawei, ZTE and Fiberhome for government networks, claiming that they can pose a serious national security threat. TEPC has been set up by the government to promote telecom exports from India.
But Sinha said that domestic telecom operators are free to procure equipment from any vendor based on their technology and commercial interests.
In November 2018, the Indian government established the Security Assurance Standards Facility (SASF) in Bengaluru to develop telecom security assurance requirements for telecom equipment, irrespective of the source, to ensure security in digital communication at the national level.
Last month, Huawei confirmed that it had been invited by the Indian government to conduct 5G trials in the country, which are scheduled to start early next year. The Indian government initially did not invite Huawei to take part in the 5G trials but has now formally invited Huawei by request of the company.
Telecom equipment suppliers Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung will also be taking part in the 5G trials. Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE has previously said that it is already working with Indian carriers to provide end-to-end solutions for the future launch of 5G technologies. ZTE said that leading Indian operators have already started 5G tests and verification with its products.
The Indian government expects to hold inter-ministerial consultations on network security concerns ahead of the planned field trials for 5G technology.
In terms of India’s overall 5G plans, the country aims to hold a 5G auction by August next year. Indian authorities expect the commercial launch of 5G technology to occur during 2020. Indian telecom regulator TRAI has recommended the auction of 8,644 megahertz of frequencies for the provision of 5G services.
In August, a high-level 5G panel in India urged the national government to announce a 5G spectrum allocation policy by the end of this year. The panel also recommended earmarking additional spectrum bands for supporting 5G technology in the country. The 5G Forum, which was set up by the Indian government, recommended the temporary assignment of 5G frequencies for carriers willing to carry out trials in the coming months. The panel also advised the government to promulgate guidelines on regulatory matters for the auction of 5G frequencies by March 2019, to facilitate early 5G deployments in the country.