Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Opinion | An open 5G contest is in our interest

The 5G opportunity is just too big to miss, as global value chains turn intelligent

The permission India has granted Huawei to participate in 5G trials underlines the government’s desire to deploy at the earliest telecommunications networks that can support the Internet of Things. By the look of it, US lobbying over security concerns to have the Chinese telecom network equipment maker struck off a list that includes Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung has yielded to the fact that Huawei has signed 5G contracts in 50 countries and is at the forefront of the technology. The US had, as part of a high-decibel trade war with China, accused Huawei of espionage and managed to convince some of its closest allies to keep the Chinese company out of 5G trials. But India cannot afford to fall behind in this race.

Earlier this month, India set base prices for 5G spectrum and announced it will hold auctions by March, although Indian telecom companies are scrambling to raise funds to pay the government an enhanced share of their revenues accumulated for well over a decade.

Put simply, the 5G opportunity is just too big to miss, as global value chains turn intelligent. Since Huawei operates in the so-called “factory of the world", it has an edge. For India, high-speed telecom networks offer a way to deliver health, education and governance to millions who are underserved right now. New Delhi’s security concerns can be addressed even without an outright ban on suspect telecom infrastructure providers. In this decision, as with several others in recent times, India has stuck by its national interest. That can hardly be faulted.

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