Mukesh Ambani, in his interaction with US President Donald Trump, said that Reliance Jio “was going to do 5G” and proclaimed that it is the only network in the world that doesn’t have a single Chinese component, according to transcripts released by the White House. He also said that the US played a role in transforming Indian telecom sector, especially 4G. While Ambani was making his comments about not using Chinese gear on Jio’s network, President Trump cut him short, and said “Huawei”, and then asked Ambani to “put a bid in”.
Reliance Jio has reportedly submitted its bid to participate in India’s upcoming 5G trails along with South Korea’s Samsung. However, its competitors, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, have partnered with Huawei, ZTE, Ericsson and Nokia in their applications for the upcoming 5G trials.
In December 2019, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that the country will not stop any telecom equipment provider from participating in the 5G field trials, essentially giving the green-light to China’s Huawei. However, the US has been a vocal critic of the Chinese telco, and sees it as an espionage threat.
The United States has been urging countries around the world, including India, to not allow Huawei in their 5G networks. In December 2019, the US had warned India of the “risks” posed by Chinese-made networks, to the “treasured freedoms”. A few months before that, it had also written to the Ministry of External Affairs, “warning” India that Indian companies that supply American-origin products could face severe punishment.
In May 2019, the US Commerce Department had added Huawei and 70 affiliates to its ‘Entity List’, which prevented the company from buying components from US companies without the government’s approval. The enormity of the decision soon became clear when Google cancelled Huawei’s Android licence, and chipmakers Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom and Xilinx suspended shipments to the Chinese company.