July 2 (UPI) — India may advise domestic telecom network operators to avoid buying equipment from Huawei and ZTE, according tomedia reports. The government also plans to review existing contracts with Chinese companies from its state-owned companies Mahanagar Telephone Nigam and Bharat Sanchar Nigam, according to people familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity. The matter is still under discussion.
They said India’s Ministry of Communications had approached a number of private telecommunications companies, including Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm and Vodafone Idea, about the use of Chinese network equipment. The department has yet to comment.
After being allowed to participate in the trial, Chinese telecom equipment suppliers, including Huawei, have been hoping to secure a 5G network construction contract in India as the country’s main equipment supplier for 5G network projects. The United States and other countries have called for a ban on 5G network equipment from these Chinese companies, but India has previously refused to join the ranks. 5G networks are seen as key to the development of factory automation, autonomous driving and artificial intelligence applications.
Huawei was recently listed as a national security threat by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and banned from selling devices in the U.S. and other markets. The company is now counting on Customers in India to buy its 5G equipment. The country is the world’s largest mobile phone market outside China.
India’s communications ministry recently met with several mobile network operators to seek their views on the impact of disabling Chinese devices on the cost of rolling out 5G infrastructure as planned, the people said. The department also wants to see if manufacturers outside China are capable of meeting India’s demand for such equipment.
As for India’s state-owned operators, they only buy 4G network equipment from Indian manufacturers as long as the quality meets globally accepted standards.
Since last month’s border conflict between India and China, India has called for less reliance on Chinese products and a stop for large Chinese companies to establish themselves in the Indian market. India is currently the world’s fastest-growing telecommunications market.
On Monday, India banned Byte Dance’s popular short video app TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps, citing threats to its sovereignty. Other banned apps include Alibaba’s UC browser, Tencent’s WeChat and Baidu’s mapping and translation services.
India is seeking to raise $84bn from this year’s auction spectrum, much of it, to build a new generation of 5G mobile services, amid a possible ban on Chinese network equipment manufacturers. (Le Bon)