New Delhi: The Army has red-flagged the possibility of Chinese 5G services being introduced in the country, saying there is a huge security risk and that such services could compromise the entire command and communication structure of the Indian military, ThePrint has learnt.
Sources said the Army along with the Navy and the Air Force had given its inputs on the 5G technology to the government like many other agencies and departments.
After due deliberations, the Narendra Modi government has however allowed all network equipment makers, including China’s Huawei, to participate in 5G trials.
“We have our own concerns with regard to Chinese 5G that has been put forward to the government. From our point of view, there is a big chance of our command and communication systems getting compromised,” a senior military officer told ThePrint.
Sources said the main worry is that the Chinese will be able to beat all competition because of their prices.
“The Chinese 5G technology will come the cheapest and they will emerge as the lowest bidder. India’s procurement policy is based on the lowest bidder concept,” another officer told ThePrint.
He explained that the cost of the low bid will come at a big price.
“Do we have the wherewithal to ensure that the systems are not compromised and everything is in place? Once the 5G network rolls out, the data will be super fast and slowly every system will be run on it and this is where the risk is,” the officer explained.
All three military arms raise concerns
Officers explained that the risk is China, which India is racing to defend itself against with better weapons and infrastructure along the northern and eastern borders, will get access to Indian military communication through some kind of a back-door.
They said the concerns have been expressed by all the three Services — the Army, the Navy and the IAF.
India is caught in a diplomatic and economic tussle between the US and China over the 5G network.
The US has been at the forefront of opposing the Chinese 5G plans citing security concerns. It has been pressurising allies and friendly countries, including India, to bar Huawei from 5G deployments, citing the company’s alleged proximity to the Chinese government.
China has on its part warned India of economic consequences if Huawei were excluded from 5G development and deployments.
While countries like Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan have barred Huawei out of 5G deployments, others such as France, the Netherlands, Russia and South Korea have allowed the Chinese firm to participate.
Canada, the UK, Germany, Italy and Indonesia are among those currently on the fence.
The US has warned the British government it “would be madness” to use Huawei technology in its 5G network.
A US delegation presented the UK this week with new evidence claiming to show security risks posed by using the Chinese firm.
In June, the Department of Telecommunications had approved a one-year 5G trial period with focus on three big social sectors — education, agriculture, waste management and healthcare.
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