New Delhi: All major telecom operators and equipment vendors on Tuesday met top officials of Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to discuss roadmap for 5G trials in the country.
The meeting was chaired by telecom secretary Anshu Prakash and was attended by senior representatives of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Reliance Jio and all equipment vendors, including Huawei.
“Broad roadmap for the trials was discussed. The DoT is expected to allot spectrum soon and trials are expected to start in January-March quarter," a person aware of the matter said requesting anonymity.
A Huawei representative who attended the meeting declined to comment on the specifics of the discussion.
This comes a day after the government said it has allowed all applicants, including China’s Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, to participate in 5G trials, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Monday.
“The age of 5G is coming... we have taken a decision to give 5G spectrum for trials to all the players," said Prasad on Monday.
This has come as a welcome relief to Huawei, which has been facing global scrutiny over network security concerns. The US has claimed that Huwaei’s 5G equipment could be used by China to spy on other countries, an allegation the company has repeatedly denied.
The approval for conducting 5G trials does not, however, automatically imply that Huawei’s equipment will be cleared for a commercial rollout in the country.
The DoT will allocate the trial spectrum to its licensees, which are telecom service providers such as Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd that can then choose to partner with vendors such as Nokia, Huawei, Ericsson and Samsung.
Huwaei has welcomed the government’s decision. “We have full confidence in the Indian government and industry to partner with the best technology for India’s own long-term benefit and also for cross-industry development. Huawei is always committed to India," said Jay Chen, chief executive of Huawei India.
Earlier this month, DoT approved prices for the next spectrum auction that will happen by April. Of the 8,300 MHz of airwaves the government plans to offer, 6,050 MHz have been allocated for 5G services.
India is a crucial market for Huawei, where it has deployed 4G networks for Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea. Huawei had in September said banning the company in India would delay the rollout of 5G services by two-three years.
India’s decision to let Huawei take part in 5G trials comes at a time when the company is battling intense pressure from the US. Australia and Japan have also barred Huawei, while Canada and New Zealand are likely to follow suit. Many countries in Europe are yet to take a decision, while Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have welcomed Huawei.