The Narendra Modi-government has formed a high-level panel to look into the participation of Huawei in the upcoming 5G trials, amid growing international pressure to ban the Chinese giant even as Beijing has threatened New Delhi of consequences if the company is banned.
The panel comprises officials from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the ministries of home and external affairs.
Besides, there are representatives from the department of information technology, department of telecom and department of science and technology.
Security agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau and National Security Council will also have their members.
Officials said the panel would submit its report at the earliest and would look into the security concerns of different nations and the policies adopted by them regarding the Chinese players.
Indian telecom operators want the government to quickly arrive at a decision. The director-general of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), Rajan Mathews, told The Telegraph that an early decision by the government on permitting Huawei equipment in the 5G network would help the operators.
“All we are saying is let us know earlier rather than later as the industry have to take decisions on equipment which are future-proof. Any sudden change in rules mid-way would burden telecom firms which are already in bad shape financially,” Mathews said.
He said security issues were earlier handled by the operator. But now the government has taken an active interest and it has to take a call.
National Cyber Security Co-ordinator Rajesh Pant has said 5G would not be limited to telecom networks but will have an impact across all sectors.
“The government has to decide on it (participation of Huawei). We can tell you from technology aspect. Thereafter, its economics and political part will be seen. Security is an issue there is no doubt in it. 5G is not just a pure telecom network. It has many things that are connected to our lifestyle,” he said.
5G is the next-generation technology for wireless communications that is expected to exponentially improve data speed and power devices linked to the Internet of Things.
The network can provide data speeds at least 20 times faster than 4G and are seen as vital for emerging technologies such as self-driving cars and artificial intelligence.
The Trump administration had placed Huawei and its affiliates on its blacklist, a move that banned the Chinese telecom equipment company from purchasing parts and components from American firms without the US government approval.
Late last month, China is learnt to have told the Indian government that blocking Huawei could result in consequences for Indian companies operating in China.