Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Huawei ties up with Airtel, Voda Idea to hold 5G trials in Bengaluru, Delhi

  • Huawei has partnered with Vodafone Idea to hold trials in Delhi and with Bharti Airtel for trials in Bengaluru
  • Government will assess the applications and allocate the trial spectrum to its licensees, which are telecom service providers

NEW DELHI : Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei has teamed up with mobile service providers Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, which have submitted applications to the government for conducting 5G trials.

“Huawei has partnered with Bharti Airtel for trials in Bengaluru and with Vodafone Idea to hold trials in Delhi. The telcos have already submitted the applications," one person aware of the development said, on condition of anonymity.

On 31 December, the government had initiated the process for deploying 5G in India and met operators and vendors to discuss the broad road map for the trials expected in January-March.

The last date to submit applications for the trials was 15 January. The government will assess the applications and allocate the trial spectrum to its licensees, or telecom service providers.

An emailed query to Huawei was unanswered till press time.

Huawei’s teaming up with Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea comes at a time when the Chinese telecom equipment maker is 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.

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.

5G is the next generation of wireless technology and will boost data speeds and propel the Internet of Things, with the potential to bring radical changes in agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare and education.

Last month, the department of telecommunications (DoT) also approved the prices for the spectrum auction scheduled to be held by April. Of the 8,300 megahertz (MHz) of airwaves the government plans to offer, 6,050MHz have been allocated for 5G. The band allocation for 5G of 3,300-3,600MHz has been priced at 492 crore per megahertz. In June last year, DoT had said entities seeking experimental spectrum to conduct 5G field trials will be given one-year to do so for a one-time fee of 5,000 per trial.

The government also announced its intention to focus on three big social sectors for the deployment of 5G—education, agriculture, waste management and healthcare.

India’s 5G trials and commercial rollout are already far behind those of global peers. South Korea was the first to commercially start 5G services in April. China’s state-run telecom operators China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom rolled out 5G services in November to consumers across 50 Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

The US’s Verizon Communications kick-started 5G services in October 2018 in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, using non-standard gear. Any approval for conducting 5G trials does not, however, automatically imply that Huawei’s equipment will be cleared for a commercial rollout in the country.

As of June-end, Huawei has secured more than 50 commercial 5G contracts. Out of these, 28 contracts are in Europe, 11 in West Asia, six in Asia-Pacific, four in South America and one in Africa.

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