Barcelona: Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei, which is in the eye of a storm on concerns over network security, is ready to roll out 5G in India and can do field trials “within 20 days of government approval", Huawei India chief executive officer (CEO) Jay Chen said in an interview.
“The day we get approval from the department of telecommunications and spectrum is allotted, we can get a 5G trial up and running within 20 days," Chen said.
Considered the next generation of wireless technology, 5G enables secure connectivity between devices other than smartphones, such as sensors, vehicles, robots, and drones.
That opens up the possibility of industry-altering changes in sectors ranging from agriculture and healthcare to manufacturing and warehousing.
The government last year set up a high-level panel tasked with creating a road-map for 5G rollouts in India. The government already has a test bed for 5G trials at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras. Huawei’s rival Ericsson has also set up a test bed at IIT Delhi and Huawei has plans to set up its own test bed for trials.
“We are talking to the industry, the government and academia and in all likelihood we should be able to set up a lab for 5G trials by June this year," Chen said.
Huawei also expects India to become the second largest 5G market after China in 10 years. It expects use cases such facial recognition and video surveillance to emerge as the technology rolls out in India. “As far as 5G is concerned, Europe and North America are late. It is the Asian countries that are taking the lead in 5G," he said.
As the world gears up to roll out 5G, Huawei is facing increased opposition from governments that are worried that its telecom equipment could be used by Chinese intelligence, something the company has always denied.
Australia, New Zealand, and the US have already blocked Huawei from supplying equipment for 5G networks. Britain has decided it can mitigate the alleged risks arising from the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks, the Financial Times reported on 17 February. Meanwhile, Canada is reviewing whether its gear presents a serious security threat. The US is also pursuing criminal charges against Huawei, including money laundering, bank fraud and stealing trade secrets.
“The US is lobbying against Huawei in India and everybody knows that," Chen said.
Earlier this month, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo cautioned allies that deploying equipment from Huawei would make it more difficult for the US to partner with them, said an 11 February Reuters report. The Indian government plans to study network security concerns arising from the presence of Chinese equipment vendors in India, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said on Wednesday. It has not taken a decision yet on whether to allow Huawei to participate in 5G trials.
“We believe that the DoT (department of telecommunications) is making an effort to carefully study cyber security issues, which is part of the efforts of the global industry to build and strengthen universal cybersecurity standards, which will eventually be used as the basis to judge whether all vendors’ equipment are secure or not, based on data and facts," Chen said.
The writer is at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the invitation of Huawei.
(The writer is at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the invitation of Huawei.)