China’s Huawei and ZTE will be kept out of India’s plans to roll out its 5G network. Sources told Bloomberg on condition of anonymity that the Ministry of Communications will restart pending discussions on approvals for 5G trials by Indian private companies including Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm and Vodafone Idea that were delayed by the nationwide lockdown.
India’s move is in congruence with the decision taken by the US, UK and Australia, which have expressed concerns about companies with Chinese government links. The US Federal Communications Commission had gone a step ahead and even officially declared both companies as national security threats.
The latest development is set to spill the process to auction 5G into next year in India. According to officials a decision on the ban is expected to be announced in a week or two after approval from the Prime Minister’s office.
Though the government had allowed Huawei to participate in its 5G trials earlier this year, its stance against Chinese companies hardened after China’s actions along their disputed border in early May. That military standoff, which turned deadly in June killing 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops, is now in its fourth month.
Big Opportunity For Reliance
The likely ouster of Chinese majors from 5G play could act as a big push for Reliance Jio, which plans to build its own 5G software stack and embrace Open-RAN techniques. This will also help it save up on hefty premium payouts to existing 4G networks supplier, Samsung. The Mukesh Ambani-led telco’s pact with Qualcomm Inc would also help it roll out advanced 5G infrastructure and services.
Last month, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and Reliance Jio Platforms raised INR 730 Cr from California-based venture capital firm Qualcomm Ventures, the investment wing of Qualcomm, the world’s leading mobile chipset and modem maker.
During the Reliance 43rd AGM last month, Mukesh Ambani said that the company’s subsidiary Jio Platforms had developed a complete 5G technology, which would enable the company to launch a ‘Made in India’ 5G solution. Ambani said that the company’s 5G solution would be ready for trial once the country’s 5G auctions begin. Ambani claimed that existing Jio users would be able to upgrade their existing 4G networks to 5G, also saying that a successful trial of the technology in India would allow the company to export the technology.
Ambani said that Jio’s homegrown 5G solution was dedicated to PM Modi’s ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat’. He further outlined Jio Platforms’ vision, of developing original, captive, intellectual property, to demonstrate the power of technology.
Qualcomm is also keen to accelerate the transition of India from 4G to 5G network, in an interview with ET, Qualcomm head Cristiano Amon that the company will ensure that it can deliver 5G services to all the price points and make it more affordable.