The United Kingdom on Tuesday announced that telecom equipment from Huawei will be phased out of the country’s 5G infrastructure by 2027. The announcement is a significant step in the US-led effort to get governments around the world to refrain from using Chinese technology in the next generation of cellular networks. The UK had initially allowed Huawei to have a role in the country’s 5G networks. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson later expressed doubt, questioning the role of “potentially hostile state vendors” in critical infrastructure, signalling Tuesday’s move. We have reached out to Huawei for comment.
In May, the US added to its existing sanctions against Huawei, preventing companies that used American technology from doing business with Huawei. Weeks later, the FCC designated Huawei as a threat to national security.
Huawei in India
On June 24, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo name-checked Jio as one of the operators globally “rejecting doing business with tools of the CCP surveillance state, like Huawei”. But like elsewhere in the world, telcos in India remain reliant on Huawei’s equipment. In June, the Financial Express reported that while the Indian government has not offered any tangible guidance on Huawei, the telecom industry would resist moves that would lock the Chinese company out. Then-COAI Director General Rajan Mathews told the publication that commercial and geopolitical issues should be kept separate.
A few weeks after the India–China border skirmishes, BSNL cancelled a 4G supply tender, reportedly aiming to rework it to make Chinese vendors ineligible. In June, NITI Aayog member V.K. Saraswat told the Indian Express that India “should not encourage import of Chinese raw material for strategic sectors like telecom”.
During US President Donald Trump’s visit to India in February 2020, Reliance chairperson and managing director Mukesh Ambani had proclaimed before him that Jio is the only network in the world that doesn’t have a single Chinese component in its network. Earlier today, at its annual general meeting, Ambani announced that Jio is now ready to deploy 5G network trials in India as soon as spectrum is available and that the 5G technology was built “from scratch” by Reliance employees