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Cellular Operators Association of India urges government to clear the air on Huawei telecom gear

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

PTI New Delhi, India Jun 06, 2019, 06.53 PM (IST)

Industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has urged the government to clarify its stance on the use of Huawei equipment in telecom infrastructure, particularly for futuristic 5G networks, at the earliest to enable operators to take a long-term view in investment decisions.

Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) Director General, Rajan Mathews told PTI that it is for the government to decide on whether Huawei telecom gear will be allowed in 5G networks, but an early decision on the matter would help operators make investment decisions.

"The industry is saying, it is really up to the government to decide on Huawei ... All we are saying is let us know earlier rather than later because we have to make decisions on 4G ... Operators are buying 4G equipment that future proof, in terms of forward compatibility for 5G...Any sudden change of rules midway, will mean financial loss to us...," Mathews said.

Last month, the Trump administration had placed Huawei and its affiliates on blacklist, a move that essentially banned the Chinese telecom equipment company from purchasing parts and components from American firms without the US government approval. The US had subsequently relaxed some of the restrictions to reduce disruption for its customers. 

India, however, is yet to take a call on whether it intends to place curbs on Huawei or allow the Chinese telecom equipment maker to participate in the upcoming 5G trials, that are scheduled to commence in 100 days.

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad Monday alluded to the contentious issue saying it was a "complex" matter and will be looked at seriously including security aspects.

"We will take a firm view on it. There are also security issues...It is not only a matter of technology, as regard their participation in 5G is concerned...Participation of 5G is not conditional upon the trial being started. Whether a particular company is allowed to participate or not, is a complex question including security issues," the Minister had then said.

The same day, Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei said its engagement with the Indian government for 5G trials has been "positive" and hoped that India will make its "own independent decision" on the issue.

"I think it's the right time for Telecom Department to make the decision after almost 6-8 months of very close engagement... They are quite happy and positive in the engagement," Huawei Telecommunications India CEO, Jay Chen had said on the sidelines of a COAI panel discussion on 5G.

Story highlights

COAI Director General, Rajan Mathews told PTI that it is for the government to decide on whether Huawei telecom gear will be allowed in 5G networks, but an early decision on the matter would help operators make investment decisions.