Thursday, 18 June 2020 11:56

Border clashes may queer pitch for Huawei, ZTE in India Featured

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Border clashes may queer pitch for Huawei, ZTE in India Image by the_darker_knight from Pixabay

The chances of Chinese telecommunications equipment vendors Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corporation playing a role in India's 5G networks have been dealt a sharp blow following border clashes between troops from the two countries.

India's Economic Times reported that New Delhi was likely to ban Chinese companies from providing telecommunications gear to any state-run firms.

Additionally, the newspaper said, even private firms could be prohibited from using equipment from the likes of Huawei and ZTE.

The clashes, in Ladakh in Kashmir on Monday, are claimed to have resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers while 35 Chinese troops are said to have been either killed or else left injured.

The two countries fought a brief war in 1962 over their disputed border but any clashes since have been minor. Both Beijing and New Delhi are nuclear powers.

Quoting an unnamed official, the ET said the federal telecommunications department would soon cancel a 4G tender floated by the government-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam and rewrite the terms and conditions for participation in order to keep Chinese companies out.

“The government has taken a decision to cancel the tender which was floated (by BSNL) earlier this year,” the official said. "We will likely also not allow private operators to use Chinese gear in the future and will encourage domestic telecom equipment makers."

The official also said Indian telecommunications gear makers were being disadvantaged by China not allowing imports, while Chinese equipment was subsidised and thus able to be sold much cheaper in the Indian market.

The newspaper said that India telcos were, however, keen on seeing both Huawei and ZTE play a role in the country as they both offered cheaper equipment and attractive financing options.

Were a ban to be placed on the two Chinese companies, India would have to spend from 10% to 15% more to roll out 5G, ET quoted analysts as saying.

iTWire has contacted Huawei for comment.

Washington has campaigned for more than two years to try and push countries it considers allies to avoid using 5G equipment from Huawei in their networks. Thus far, only Australia and Vietnam have said openly that they would follow the American lead.

Japan, South Korea and Poland have indicated that they are likely to toe the US line, but have yet to make public pronouncements about what policy they would follow.

The UK broke ranks with the US in January, saying it would allow Huawei to supply up to a third of equipment for non-core parts of its 5G networks but has more recently twice changed stance, once saying it would remove Huawei gear completely by 2023 and later saying it would block the use of such equipment after 2023.

Since then, India, the UAE and Cambodia have said they would allow Huawei to participate in 5G trials. But New Delhi is now singing a different tune.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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