The Huawei Research and Development Center in Bangalore, India. Photo: AFP

As India prepares to kick off 5G mobile phone network trials, it is yet to make a decision on the participation of Chinese telecom giant Huawei. This comes in the wake of security concerns raised by the US and other countries.

The home ministry has called for a thorough assessment of cyber security and for the need to ensure that necessary safeguards are in place before allowing Huawei to take part in the trials. Various ministries are reportedly deliberating the issue, Financial Express reports.

Huawei has already received permission from the Department of Telecom (DoT) to conduct 5G trials in India. Ericsson and Samsung have applied to the DoT for trials, while Nokia is yet to make an official approach.

India’s largest mobile phone service provider, Vodafone Idea, has submitted a joint application with Huawei for 5G trials, while the second largest operator Airtel has sought permission with both Huawei and Ericsson in different locations. Reliance Jio will conduct trials with Samsung. Nokia, meanwhile, has expressed a desire to run trials with state-run BSNL.

Trial period

The DoT and the telecom industry are yet to reach a consensus regarding the timing of the trials. While the industry has been demanding spectrum (the required frequency bands) for one year to carry out trials, the DoT rules allow allocation of trial spectrum bands for only three months.

Although this has become a roadblock for 5G trials, the DoT is reportedly hopeful of breaking the deadlock soon.

Support sought

The mobile phone service providers’ industry body Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) has sought various concessions for taking part in the upcoming trials.

COAI wants the government to provide financial support and subsidies to facilitate the trials. It has also sought a waiver of fees on network equipment purchases for the entire trial period.

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