India Selects Cisco, Samsung, Nokia, Ericsson for 5G trials; Bars Huawei and ZTE

India’s  Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has excluded Huawei and ZTE from its list of companies asked to partner for trials to develop 5G use cases for India.   New Delhi may well follow the US and Australia in limiting involvement of Chinese telecom equipment makers in the roll-out of the next-gen technology.

“We have written to CiscoSamsung, Ericsson and Nokia, and telecom service providers to partner with us to start 5G technology-based trials, and have got positive response from them,” telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan told ETTelecom.

“We have excluded Huawei from these trials,” she said, when asked if Huawei has been eliminated from the trials for security reasons. The government is planning to show case India-specific 5G use cases by early 2019.

People familiar with the matter said besides Huawei, the government has also excluded ZTE for the 5G trials.

India’s move comes shortly after both the US and Australia moved to act against Huawei and ZTE amid concerns about possible cyber snooping by China. Last month, Australia barred both Huawei and ZTE from its 5G network roll-outs. Before that, the US had barred government use of equipment from the two Chinese gear makers, in what is perceived as wider efforts to keep the companies away from 5G roll-outs in the country. The UK has also found “shortcomings” in Huawei’s engineering processes, which the company said it was trying to address.

“This appears more a move to restrict government ties with Chinese equipment makers given the sensitive nature of security issues, especially after what happened in some other countries,” said an industry executive who asked not to be named.

This though isn’t the first time Chinese equipment makers have faced trouble in India over security issues. Back in 2010, the government had for several months unofficially barred mobile phone operators from importing and using telecom equipment from Chinese companies on suspicion that they may have technology built in for spying into sensitive communication. The ban was lifted after the companies agreed to more stringent testing rules.

The latest government move could deal a huge setback to the two companies, especially Huawei – among the largest equipment makers globally – which considers itself the leader in 5G technology and hopes to tap into huge demand for 5G software and equipment in the years ahead as telcos roll-out the next-gen technology globally.

That bid faces a huge challenge as more and more countries try to prevent the companies from participating in their 5G roll-out plans.

In India, Huawei has already been facing huge pressure on revenue owing to rapid consolidation in the telecom market, which has slashed the number of telcos by more than half. The company, staring at a 40% slump in revenue in 2018, has already stopped assembly of its products out of its local plants and has resorted to import to meet the reduced demand. Huawei’s India revenue is likely to come down to roughly $700-800 million (Rs 4,740-5,415 crore) this year from around $1.2 billion in 2017.

And with the DoT’s decision, Huawei’s business could come under more pressure even as India chalks out aggressive 5G plans.

“We are in regular touch with DoT and concerned government officials. The Indian government has always supported Huawei and has been appreciative of our path-breaking technologies and solutions,” Huawei in a statement late Thursday said, adding that the company was confident that showcasing its 5G technology would lead to a collaboration with the government and other ecosystem, allowing it to partner India in its journey to enable 5G and digital transformation.

The Chinese gear maker also said that it is working closely with various telecom operators as they would play a crucial role in conducting 5G field trial for India specific use cases.   ZTE didn’t respond to ET’s emailed query as of press time.

“We are going to set up core group in the department to push this (trials) further, so that by early next year, we would be able to demonstrate 5G use cases in India,” Sundararajan said.

“As of now, we are at par with all major economies and have set up a high-level task force, which in its report has given the recommendations for the spectrum, standards, skills and early roll-outs,” she added.

The government is confident that India will roll-out 5G in tandem with global markets in 2020 and is making all efforts to keep the timeline for the next-generation technology, which could have an economic impact of more than $1 trillion in the country.

“We are committed to support the government’s 5G for India programme, aimed at bringing 5G to India by 2020,” Ericsson India managing director Nitin Bansal said, adding that the Swedish company is looking at developing the 5G ecosystem in India through industry partnerships.




5 thoughts on “India Selects Cisco, Samsung, Nokia, Ericsson for 5G trials; Bars Huawei and ZTE

  1. Cisco, DoT team up for 5G use cases:

    Cisco Systems Friday entered into partnership with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to demonstrate India-centric fifth-generation or 5G technology-based use cases.

    Cisco has signed an agreement with BSNL under the aegis of DoT to set up a dedicated location to demonstrate use cases using 5G to solve citizen problems in areas such as education, healthcare and agriculture using technologies such as IoT, surveillance, and Artificial Intelligence, the company in a statement said.

    On Thursday, Cisco’s chairman Chuck Robbins met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and inked alliances with the state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and country’s planning panel National Institution for Transforming India or Niti Aayog.

    “Had a wonderful meeting with Mr Chuck Robbins, Chairman and CEO of Cisco. We discussed various aspects relating to technology as well as innovation,” Modi late Thursday tweeted.

    In the next phase of initiatives under company’s ambitious ‘Country Digital Acceleration’ or CDA program, Cisco works with countries across the world to accelerate existing government goals for driving economic growth through high-tech innovation.

    The two pacts are a part of the US technology giant’s next phase of CDA program in the country.

    DoT has written to the various multinational technology vendors including Cisco, Samsung, Nokia and Ericsson in addition to incumbent service providers such as Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio to develop and showcase India-specific 5G use cases.

    “We have written to Cisco, Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia, and telecom service providers to partner with us to start 5G technology-based trials, and have already got positive response,” department’s top official earlier told ETTelecom.

    “The collaboration with Cisco will provide a platform for showcasing how 5G-based e-citizen services are bringing about a change through the use of new age technologies,” telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said.

    The initiative, according to her would also shed light on the power of a 5G network which opens up a number of exciting opportunities in the citizen services space thereby making it secure and efficient.

    Sundararajan-headed department is accelerating its efforts to meet global timeline while rolling out 5G-based services, and has already constituted a 5G Forum with representation from the academia and industry.

    “India is going through a transformational journey, with initiatives like Digital India and Smart Cities helping to power its digital economy,” Cisco Chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins said, adding that the next initiatives in Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration program underline the commitment to accelerate India’s ecosystem of talent and innovation, which he said could to help in driving economic growth.

  2. Panel urges Indian government to launch 5G spectrum policy by year-end

    A high-level 5G panel in India has suggested the local government to announce a 5G spectrum allocation policy by the end of this year, Indian press reported. The panel also recommended earmarking additional airwave bands for supporting 5G technology in the country.

    The 5G Forum, which had been set up by the Indian government, also recommended the temporary assignment of 5G frequencies for carriers willing to carry out trials in the coming months.

    “Given a six-month active trials period, spectrum license may be provided for 12 months. Further, after the trials are completed, if the operator wishes to convert the trials deployment into a commercial deployment, they may be provided favourable terms to purchase spectrum under the auction regime,” the panel said in its report, which was submitted to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

    The report also urged the government to promulgate guidelines on regulatory matters for the auction of 5G frequencies by March 2019 to facilitate early 5G deployments in the country.

    “In India, 5G deployment strategy faces conflicting considerations. If we go for early adoption, the equipment is likely to be more expensive. On the other hand, early adoption will fast track the country’s embrace of 5G’s benefits and increase opportunities to develop innovative use cases that support Indian needs,” the report said.

    It added that the government needs to keep in mind that even after the entry of 5G into Indian networks, 2G, 3G and 4G will continue to remain in use.

    The 5G panel also said that the DoT may provide financial support to operators related to deployment – backhauls, site acquisition, civil works and related operational costs. It added that additional financial support may be offered to internet service providers, technology companies, and local governments to participate in the future 5G trials.

  3. The lack of participation from Huawei and ZTE, two leading companies in 5G technology, will eventually slow the process of 5G development in India and also increase costs, Xiang Ligang, chief executive of telecom industry news site, told the Global Times on Sunday.

    “Surely, local telecoms service operators will not accept this outcome, and will ask the Indian government to let (the Chinese companies) in,” he said.

    The Indian telecoms authority has written to other foreign companies including Cisco, Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia to welcome them to work with domestic companies on 5G trials, and the government is planning to showcase specific 5G use cases by early 2019, according to the Economic Times of India.

    India usually blocks Chinese investment, especially in sensitive sectors, by using the excuse of safeguarding national security in line with the intention to please the US by adopting a tough stance against China, Tian Guangqiang, assistant research fellow with the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.

    In August, the US banned government personnel from using Huawei technologies while Australia barred the company from providing equipment to support the country’s new telecommunications networks.

    “Politicizing business activity leads to a deteriorating business environment for foreign investment, which will hinder Chinese investment in India in the future,” Tian said.

  4. SK Telecom becomes the latest operator to snub Huawei

    South Korea’s largest operator, SK Telecom, has become the latest to snub Huawei when it comes to choice of 5G equipment supplier.

    SK Telecom has announced it will be accepting bids from Huawei’s rivals – Samsung, Ericsson, and Nokia – to supply equipment for its 5G network.

    Many industry experts speculated Huawei would be named among SK Telecom’s preferred bidders, although the vendor has been caught up in controversy much like its troubles in the US and Australia.

    The US has banned the use of Huawei’s equipment in national telecoms infrastructure for some years over security fears. Tensions were stepped up after US lawmakers were said to have been warning operators they would be ineligible for government deals and subsidies if they had contracts with Chinese equipment manufacturers.

  5. Huawei denies being excluded from India’s national 5G trial

    “Huawei is an active participant in India’s growing 5G ecosystem,” the company told ZDNet. “The government of India remains open and welcoming towards Huawei, and has been a fantastic source of support.”

    While Sundararajan’s comments did not specifically mention Huawei’s fellow Chinese telecoms equipment manufacturer ZTE, the company is also said to have been excluded from participating in India’s 5G trials.

    If true, excluding both Chinese manufacturers suggests the Indian government holds national security concerns similar to those of their US and Australian counterparts.

    On the Australian government’s recent decision to block Huawei from its 5G networks, the company said in a statement:

    “The Australian government’s decision to block Huawei from Australia’s 5G market is politically motivated, not the result of a fact-based, transparent, or equitable decision-making process.

    It is not aligned with the long-term interests of the Australian people and denies Australian businesses and consumers the right to choose from the best communications technology available.”

    Officials have expressed concerns that Chinese telecoms companies such as Huawei are controlled by the Chinese government who could install ‘backdoors’ in its equipment for surveillance purposes or to shut down critical infrastructure. Huawei has always strongly refuted such claims.

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