EU looks to work with India on 5G security standards

5G security standards Europe India
Image by Anastasiya Guseva | Bigstockphoto

The European Union is looking to work with the Indian government to create open and transparent security standards for 5G technology rollouts across Europe and India, especially when the latter is seeking to limit the role of Chinese telecom vendors in its telecom networks. Notably, the EU is India’s largest trading partner.

EU officials are expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discuss the telecom security matter as part of a broader discourse on security and trade issues during the India-EU summit in Portugal on May 8.

Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s antitrust chief, reportedly told Bloomberg that Europe wants to work with “democratic partners including India” to establish these open and transparent standards that should be part of every 5G value chain.

“When we have a systemic rivalry, then we must come together to protect what is really important…the way tech is used is a reflection of the system that we prefer, which is democracy,” Vestager was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

She said that there’s “renewed focus” on building common standards that will ensure security across the 5G value chain and create level-playing fields for local and smaller companies. “It has been part of discussions we have had so far. And I would hope that this would be a common approach,” she added.

Vestager said standardisation would play a key role for speedy digitalisation.

India recently amended the telecom licenses to mandate the use of equipment only from “trusted sources” from June 15, 2021. The move is expected to impact both Huawei and ZTE.

The US, UK and Australia have already blocked Huawei and ZTE from participating in building their telecom networks. The US, Australia, India, and Japan are also looking to join forces to promote the use of “trusted vendors” for the 5G technology as part of their strategic cooperation under the framework of the Quadrilateral coalition.

Huawei has been present in India for over two decades and is a major supplier to Vodafone Idea. It has already said that it will continue to give new business to Chinese vendors for radio and transport network expansion. On the other hand, Airtel has been reducing its dependence on Chinese vendors for its radio part of the network but went ahead and gave a wireline network contract worth Rs 300 crore ($40 million).

State-run telecom operator, BSNL, is also reportedly planning to block Chinese vendors from participating in its nationwide 4G tender worth over $1 billion.

The EU needs to invest $355 billion to build its 5G network, while India would need over $70 billion, the report said, citing official data.

Related article: India aims to become global 5G use cases innovation hub

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