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Can’t wait no more, says Huawei as India holds off decision on choosing firm for 5G trials

Huawei, the world's largest telecom equipment maker, is one of the torchbearers of 5G technology, which is yet to be rolled out.

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New Delhi: Huawei is growing impatient with India’s indecisiveness on choosing the Chinese tech giant as a partner for the country’s 5G trials, the company’s India CEO Jay Chen has said.

“We cannot wait no more for selection (of Huawei to participate in the 5G trials)… or for 5G trials to start,” Chen said Monday during a panel discussion at an event organised in New Delhi by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), a telecom industry body.

The event, also attended by Department of Telecommunication secretary Anshu Prakash, was aimed at discussing 5G mobile connectivity, the next frontier in wireless internet that is expected to revolutionise life as we know it.

Huawei (pronounced Wah-Way), the world’s largest telecom equipment maker, is one of the torchbearers of 5G technology, which is yet to be rolled out and is currently undergoing trials.

However, the company has been blocked out of 5G networks in several countries over concerns that its equipment could be used by China for espionage.

Speaking at the COAI event, Chen sought to address these concerns. He said Huawei had been engaging with Indian authorities for the past several months, providing all assurances that the company was secure to participate in 5G trials.

“As a Chinese investor, we have given full commitment that we fully comply with policies on security and privacy,” he added.

The absence of a decision, Chen said, was holding India back in 5G implementation, even as other Asian countries, like Thailand and Sri Lanka, were moving ahead.

“We are a hot pot of global media attention during the last seven-eight months (owing to the espionage allegations),” Chen said, adding that the experience had only made the company “more confident” in the security of its equipment because the products had passed the most number of security tests in the world.

Prakash, who was also part of the panel discussion, had acknowledged Chen’s concerns in a speech earlier, saying, “We are aware decisions on certain companies must be taken”.

His statement was an echo of the remarks made by new Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad as he assumed office Monday. “Whether a particular company is allowed to participate or not (in 5G trials), is a complex question, including security issues,” news agency PTI had quoted Prasad as saying about Huawei.

He also said trials for 5G implementation will start in 100 days, with the spectrum auction also likely this year.

Also readAs US-China tech cold war on Huawei heats up, India is the ground zero

The price hurdle

India’s 5G experience has hit a hurdle in the auction prices proposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which have been labelled “exorbitant” by industry players who together owe a debt of Rs 7.7 trillion.

TRAI recommended last year that telecom players be sold 20 MHz blocks in the 5G spectrum at a price of Rs 492 crore/Mhz, nearly four times the Rs 131 crore/Mhz set by South Korea.

According to a report in Mint, the regulator, which recommends pricing for spectrum, has said the reserve price suggested is “pretty reasonable”.

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