India’s DoT snubs Huawei and ZTE in 5G trials: report

huawei india 5G
Image credit: Luvin Yash

ITEM: India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has reportedly jumped on the China 5G Paranoia Bandwagon by excluding Huawei and ZTE from its list of companies invited to participate in trials to develop 5G use cases.

According to the Economic Times of India, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said the DoT has contacted cellcos and vendors – including Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung – to help the DoT develop 5G use cases, which it aims to showcase early next year as part of the government’s overall plan to launch 5G in India in 2020. However, she confirmed that Huawei would be excluded from the trials.

ET also reported that ZTE hasn’t been invited to the DoT trials, citing “people familiar with the matter”.

However, according to ZDNet, Huawei says the report isn’t true:

“Our collaboration with relevant departments and operators continues to proceed as normal. The government of India remains open and welcoming towards Huawei, and has been a fantastic source of support.”

The Chinese technology giant added that its joint 5G tests with operators in India are “also moving forward according to plan”.

Chinese news site Yicai Global reports that ZTE has also denied the report, saying it “has not received notice of a ban”.

Of course, not being invited to participate in specific 5G trials isn’t the same thing as a ban like the one imposed on both companies by the Australian government, or even the de facto ban imposed by the US government. Put another way, if you read the ET report carefully – and the subsequent denials from Huawei and ZTE – the Indian government hasn’t specifically banned either company from supplying 5G gear to operators.

At least not yet. In addition to Australia and the US, the UK has also raised security concerns over Huawei’s networking equipment. Between that and Huawei going out of its way to not only dominate the 5G equipment market but also let everyone on the planet know its central leadership role in developing key standards for the technology, it’s perhaps unsurprising that other governments – or at least the ones with tenuous (or at least highly competitive) relationships with China – might be harboring second thoughts about letting Huawei and ZTE play in their 5G arena.

For example, last month, the GB Times reported that Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun reported that Japan was also considering banning Huawei and ZTE from 5G projects, according to an unnamed government official, although so far, everyone is denying everything.

Huawei has said that the whole kerfluffle in Australia is purely political, and that’s very likely true (in both Australia and the US). Unfortunately for Huawei and ZTE, politics and truth are often two different things, especially when it comes to things like national security claims where the government by definition can’t explain exactly why something is a national security threat because simply telling you would be a threat to national security in itself.

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