India's Department of Telecom has excluded Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE from is list of approved partners for a planned trial of 5G use cases in the market, suggesting that the nation may follow the US and Australia in banning the vendors from participating in its 5G rollouts.
India's telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan told the Economic Times that the department has written to Cisco, Samsung, Ericsson, Nokia and the nation's telecoms service providers asking them to partner with the government in 5G technology based trials.
The official acknowledged that Huawei has been excluded from the planned trials, but would not confirm whether the exclusion is due to national security concerns. Unnamed sources told the publication that ZTE has also been specifically excluded from the trials.
In August, the Australian government announced it has excluded Huawei and ZTE from the nation's 5G rollouts due to national security concerns, without providing any evidence that these concerns are justified.
The move came shortly after - and has been speculated to be motivated by – the US government's decision to ban US government agencies and their contractors from using most components provided by Chinese vendors including Huawei and ZTE.
The DoT's Sundararajan has meanwhile announced plans to establish a core group within the DoT to oversee the 5G trial program, and aims to be able to demonstrate 5G use cases in India by early next year.
The government's program is aimed at bringing 5G to India by 2020, although the financial struggles the market's operators are dealing with could inhibit this goal.
Update: A Huawei spokesperson has denied suggestions that the vendor has been excluded from participating in India's 5G technology trials.
"Huawei is an active participant in India's growing 5G ecosystem. We are proposing a set of solutions to support the Indian government's requirements for 5G network deployment, and our collaboration with relevant departments and operators continues to proceed as normal. The government of India remains open and welcoming towards Huawei, and has been a fantastic source of support. In the meantime, our joint 5G tests with India's operators are also moving forward according to plan," the spokesperson said.
The Economic Times report has also since been updated to state that Huawei has approached the Department of Telecom to express an interest in participating in the trials, and has been told to submit a proposal. Based on this proposal, the department may also incorporate Huawei into the trials.