Huawei India explores tech-sharing joint venture amid uncertainty

joint venture Huawei
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China’s Huawei is reportedly exploring a joint venture with an Indian company to transfer key telecom technologies for the local manufacturing of 5G gear and assuage the Indian government’s security-related concerns. The company is also willing to set up an independent telecom gear test lab in India, as it has done in the UK and Brussels.

This comes at a time when the Indian government is preparing a list of ‘trusted sources’ under the National Security Directive (NSD) for acquiring equipment for telecom networks. On Wednesday, India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) 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.

“We are now very much open and willing to partner with a local company. We are looking for a local partner, and for commercial reasons, we don’t want to disclose any details…we can bring our software or hardware modules and enable a (local) partner to manufacture equipment,” Huawei India CEO David Li was quoted as saying by the Economic Times.

The executive said that Huawei has already formed similar partnerships and joint ventures with Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) globally to develop artificial intelligence (AI) applications.

“…we are now closely working with many local companies to come up with these kinds of joint ventures to support the Make in India initiative,” he added.

The Chinese telecom gear maker has again asked the Indian government to provide a level-playing field and said that the uncertainty around its participation in 5G networks would impact the country’s 5G rollout.

“It is uncertain now…the government wants to address security concerns, but that should be based on facts and global standards…we hope the Indian government will give us a level playing field to participate in the (5G) trials,” the chief executive added.

Huawei is willing to participate in the country’s upcoming 5G networks, having already submitted 5G trial applications with Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio. The Indian government is expected to allocate trial spectrum to telcos in the coming weeks.

The Chinese vendor has been present in India for over two decades and is a major supplier to Vodafone Idea. Earlier this week, it would continue to give new business to Huawei and ZTE for radio and transport network expansion.

India’s second-largest telco, Bharti Airtel, has been reducing its exposure to both Huawei and ZTE by replacing them with Ericsson and Nokia. However, the Sunil Mittal-led telco last week awarded a wireline expansion contract worth $40 million to Huawei.

Huawei claimed that it had invested $2 billion in India, including $170 million toward its research and development (R&D) centre in Bengaluru. The executive said that the vendor would continue its investment towards the R&D centre.

“We will continue to invest for sure. Internally, we are looking at focussing heavily on R&D. The R&D and the services hold a much higher priority than the manufacturing segment,” he told the publication.

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