Huawei reaches out to Indian prime minister seeking level-playing field

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Chinese telecom major Huawei has reached out to offices of the Indian Prime Minister Narender Modi and the National Security Advisor seeking a level-playing field in the country’s telecom sector. The company’s newly appointed India CEO David Li said that it is bullish on India, despite the recent troubles due to diplomatic tensions.

Li claimed that the gear maker’s local operations are “compliant with all the rules and regulations” that have been mandated by India and it is looking to work with state-run telecom operators BSNL and MTNL for their upcoming nationwide 4G network projects.

His comments come weeks after India announced steps to create a list of ‘trusted’ vendors from whom Indian telecom operators can procure telecom equipment. The decision to establish the “National Security Directive” is likely to directly impact Chinese telecom gear vendors, especially Huawei and ZTE that are already going through heightened security across the world.

“We need a fair opportunity to do business in India. We have followed the rule book and the law of the land when doing business in India, and expect fair-play and a level-playing field, just like others,” Li was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

“India is a strategic long-term market for us. We have faith in the Indian government and believe in PM Narendra Modi’s vision and Digital India initiative,” he added.

Li said that Huawei is willing to participate in the country’s upcoming 5G networks. Huawei has already submitted 5G trial applications with Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio.

Huawei last week bought the BSNL-MTNL 4G tender document and attended a pre-bid meeting earlier this week. The meeting was also attended by Nokia, Ericsson, ZTE along with domestic vendors.

There were media reports that state-run BSNL and MTNL will no longer work with Chinese vendors for network expansion. However, the Indian government has clarified that there is no proposal to ban Chinese vendors.

The Chinese vendor has been present in India for over two decades and is a major supplier to Vodafone Idea. India’s second-largest telco, Bharti Airtel, has been reducing its exposure to both Huawei and ZTE by replacing them with Ericsson and Nokia.

The publication reported that Huawei India has also reached out to various government wings, including the home and telecom ministries.

Both Huawei and ZTE have suffered losses this year in India in the absence of new business from their existing telco partners. Due to the losses, both Chinese companies have laid off a majority of their employees in the country.

Li told the publication that Huawei pays “utmost respect” to data privacy laws, countering allegations of data law violations in India.

“No data gets compromised, ever. In any case, we have no access to data. Our networks are fully compliant with security standards and international certifications,” Li said.

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