New Delhi: Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, which is in the eye of a storm over concerns of network security globally, is optimistic about participating in the 5G trials and commercial rollout in India. According to a senior company official, Huawei is awaiting approvals following positive talks with various government departments.
“I have had many interactions...with the Prime Minister’s office, department of telecommunications and ministry of electronics and information technology. Till now, in all my engagements, nobody has told me that you (Huawei) are the problem. Everybody said we understand. Some of them even told me that it (the security concerns) is politics...no one told me we have an issue with you," Huawei India chief executive Jay Chen said.
As the world gears up to roll out 5G services, the fifth generation of wireless communication network, Huawei is facing increased opposition from governments the world over, over concerns that Chinese intelligence agencies could use its telecom equipment to spy on them. However, the company has denied any such possibility.
“We believe network security concern is a technical topic...but this (global calls to ban Huawei on security concerns) is political," Chen added.
Australia, New Zealand and the US have already blocked Huawei from supplying equipment for 5G networks. Britain has decided to mitigate the risks arising from the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks, the Financial Times reported on 17 February. Meanwhile, Canada is reviewing whether Huawei gear presents a serious security threat.
“When it comes to 5G business, in France, the UK, Germany, Spain and Japan, it is business as usual...New Zealand, the US and Australia, we do have trouble right now, we are addressing it with local governments. We hope that it gets resolved soon. We are not giving up," he said.
Any loss of business for Huawei would mean an automatic advantage for European rivals such as Ericsson and Nokia, which are in the midst of cost-cutting measures to boost margins. South Korea’s Samsung, too, is in the race to offer 5G services.
Earlier this month, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo cautioned allies that deploying equipment from Huawei in their respective countries would make it more difficult for the US to partner with them, a Reuters report dated 11 February said. The US is also pursuing criminal proceedings against Huawei, including money laundering, bank fraud and stealing trade secrets.
However, Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, in a recent interview with BBC, said that there was no way that the US could crush the company and, even if it persuaded more countries not to use Huawei temporarily, the company could always scale things down a bit.
“If the lights go out in the West, the East will still shine. And if the North goes dark, there is still the South. America doesn’t represent the world. America only represents a portion of the world," Zhengfei told the BBC on 18 February.
Back in India, Huawei has concluded several rounds of presentations with the DoT on 5G trials.
“The feedback is that they (DoT) are very positive and very comfortable with Huawei’s proposal. The company is waiting for approvals," Chen said.
The Indian government plans to hold inter-ministerial consultations on network security concerns arising from Huawei’s participation in field trials for 5G technology, Mint had reported on 19 December.
An email query to DoT on the details of Huawei’s participation in 5G rollout did not elicit any response till press time.