India greenlights 5G trials – but only for MNOs who partner with non-Chinese vendors

Published: 10 August 2020 - midnight

India’s Department of Telecoms is set approve the applications of mobile network operators looking to kick off their 5G trials, but only those which partner with non-Chinese vendors.

Both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have submitted applications for 5G trials with Ericsson, Nokia Huawei and ZTE, and the DoT will give the go ahead to the trials involving Nokia and Ericsson, while delaying a decision on those with Huawei and ZTE.

Similarly, Reliance Jio has applied for 5G trial licenses with Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei and Korean vendor Samsung. The DoT will allow India’s biggest telco to proceed with its trials involving Samsung Ericsson and Nokia but not Huawei, according to a report in the Financial Express.

Tensions between India and China have increased in recent months following a series of high profile skirmishes at strategic boarder points between the two countries. The Indian government recently banned 59 Chinese mobile apps, including popular social media platforms WeChat and TikTok, as tensions between the two countries continue to simmer.

The Indian government said that it had taken the measures to protect the “sovereignty and security” of the country.

The move came as the Indian government continues to deliberate over whether to allow Chinese vendors, such as ZTE and Huawei, to participate in its next generation network build out. The decision to ban Chinese apps on the grounds that they pose a security threat will set a worrying precedent for Chinese network equipment vendors’ prospects in India.

India is the world’s second largest telecoms market, with close to 1.2 billion subscribers.

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