After months of hullabaloo about the banning the China based Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, the Modi government has decided to allow all the applicants to participate in the 5G trials. Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed the press that, the government will allow all the applicants to take part in 5G trials. “The age of 5G is coming… we have taken a decision to give 5G spectrum for trials to all the players,” he said.
This is a big relief for Huawei, which is facing worldwide clampdown, on the concerns of security threat. Previously, Huawei helped Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd to roll out 4G services, but, in the last few years, serious cases of security breach by the Huawei came to light in other parts of the world.
The United States alleged that the company supplies serious security information to People’s Liberation Army- the armed forces of China- and therefore suggested that the countries around the world should take stringent action against the company.
However, Huawei denied all the allegations, and requested India to take independent decisions, and not swayed by the American opinion. The company welcomed the government decision, and said, “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.”
The governments around the world are skeptical about the ethical conduct of the Chinese company; Australia- despite being China’s largest trading partner- has banned Huawei, and Japan also followed suit. Canada and New Zealand are also very likely to ban Huawei in the coming months. The company is facing immense pressure from the Trump administration, which took a series of actions against its conduct, and asked the allies to ban the company.
Countries in Europe are yet to take decision on Huawei, but, they have already expressed concerns. So far, only Islamic countries- Turkey, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan- have welcomed the company with open arms, without any serious concerns.
Top officials have already warned over the national security threats posed by the 5G leader Huawei. National Security Advisory Board has already flagged security concerns over Huawei’s 5G technology. “When it comes to security, we cannot take any chances,” said NSAB member V. Kamakoti who is also a professor at IIT Madras. He also made a case for indigenization of 5G technology to make the country secure. The issue of security breach has been very harmful for Huawei in the last few months. Many major markets of Huawei like United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, and Australia have banned Huawei over security concerns.
Meanwhile, a different perspective appeals that India must be insulated from security breaches by all companies and not just Huawei. LiveMint quoted Vimal Wakhlu, a former chairman of Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd, “Whether it is Huawei or Ericsson or any other company, India needs to build a system, which can detect any malware and not depend on the brand of a company or a country.” He added, “Any country is capable of snooping on us. The reason some people have been advocating a ban on Huawei is that if it is barred, the market for equipment becomes slightly less competitive and hence it can be sold at higher prices.”
Huawei has also suggested to sign a ‘no back-door pact’ with the Indian government to express its sincerity, however, the possibility of the government banning Huawei in case of a misadventure anytime during the 5G rollout cannot be ruled out. While Huawei joining the 5G trials will push greater innovation and competition, the threat to security remains a bone of contention. Both Jio and Bharti Airtel have nudged away Huawei and are partnerning with other foreign telecom majors.
5G technology is going to play a crucial role in India’s future, which is an emerging superpower in digital technology and Information Technology. Given the importance of the 5G technology in India’s economic, security, and technological paradigms, it is important that it is developed indigenously.
There is a sharp shift in the Chinese approach over Huawei in India. Earlier, it seemed far more aggressive in its attempt to push Huawei into 5G trials in India. However, with India’s leading telecom operators shunning Huawei, China seems to have received a subtle hint about how India is not going to succumb to pressure. The Indian government must not fall in the trap of the dragon, and Huawei must be completely banned for country’s secure and sovereign future.