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Huawei can now participate in 5G trials in India

By Megha Manchanda
December 31, 2019 14:02 IST
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Huawei came under a cloud after allegations that the firm's electronic and telecom devices helped China spy on US corporations and agencies.

The wait may be finally over for Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei as the government has allowed all equipment manufacturers to conduct 5G trials in the country, without making any distinction.

“We have taken a decision to give 5G spectrum for trials to all players,” Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Monday.

 

“5G is future, it is speed. We will encourage new innovation in 5G.”

The decision provides a breather to the Chinese firm, which is battling security issues not just in India but worldwide.

“We have read the news in media and we thank the Indian government for their continued faith in Huawei. We firmly believe that only technology innovations and high-quality networks will be the key to rejuvenating the Indian telecom industry.

"We have full confidence in the Indian government and industry to partner with best technology for India’s own long-term benefit and also for cross-industry development. Huawei is committed to India,” said Jay Chen, chief executive officer, Huawei India.

The second half of the calendar year saw Huawei battling to reserve its space in India’s 5G footprint.

The government had constituted a panel, headed by its principal scientific advisor, to decide on Huawei’s participation in the 5G trials.

The trials would establish used cases in the country as a precursor to the full-fledged launch of the 5G services.

Huawei came under a cloud after allegations that the firm’s electronic and telecom devices helped China spy on US corporations and agencies.

Huawei has been barred in Australia, and Japan. Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia have welcomed it.

The Huawei India CEO had earlier said the company wants to tap India, which proposes to be the second-biggest 5G market.

He had also said India is a very unique market.

“You need to deeply understand it and have a long-term strategy,” he had said.

Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal had also come out in support of Huawei.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum, Mittal had said the company, in over the last decade, had become very good with its products.

"To a point where I can safely say their products in 3G and 4G that we have experienced, are significantly superior to Ericsson and Nokia. I use all three of them," Mittal had said.

Huawei has been trying to compete with its rivals such as Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung to become the top player in 5G. It has so far secured 50 commercial 5G contracts - 28 in Europe, 11 in central Asia, six in Asia-Pacific, four in South America and one in Africa.

The government has begun the process of auctioning the next-generation 5G spectrum with the aim of improving data speed and bringing in Internet of Things, which will enable robotic surgeries and driverless cars among a host of other things.

On December 20, the Digital Communications Commission, the apex decision-making body, at the telecom department approved the auctions across 22 circles.

A lion's share, 6050 MHz, has been set aside for 5G spectrum.

Photograph: Reuters

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Megha Manchanda in New Delhi
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