Even before the India-China clash, Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani was working on replacing Huawei

Reliance Industries Chariman Mukesh Ambani.BCCL
  • Jio 5G testing could begin soon, as the telco has applied to the Department of Telecom (DoT) to test its 5G technology in its labs.
  • In April, Airtel signed a ₹7,636 deal with Nokia to lay the foundation of its 5G network.
  • Now, with India-China tensions flaring up, the Indian government has banned Huawei and ZTE from state-owned telecom firms BSNL and MTNL.
  • Essentially, these telecom companies with nearly 700 million subscribers could keep Huawei out of their networks.
Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio has filed applications with the Department of Telecom (DoT) to commence 5G testing in its labs. If Jio succeeds, it will be the first carrier in the world to develop its own 5G technology instead of partnering with network providers like Nokia, Ericsson or Huawei.

Reports of Jio developing 5G technology in-house have been doing the rounds since at least 2018, when it acquired a US-based firm called Radisys which developed 5G and internet of things (IoT) technologies.

Now, a new report by Financial Express has revealed that Jio has filed a request to begin testing its 5G tech in its laboratories. This comes weeks after Airtel announced its partnership with Finnish network provider Nokia to lay the foundation for its 5G network.

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Two of the biggest telecom companies in India with nearly 700 million subscribers could keep Huawei out of their 5G networks.

India takes steps to keep China’s Huawei out of its 5G networks

Amidst the India-China border dispute, the Indian government is said to be considering the possibility of preventing telecom companies from using 5G equipment from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE.

It has already banned BSNL and MTNL from using any new Huawei products for their 4G rollout.
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Jio uses Samsung’s tech for its 4G network throughout India, while Airtel and Vodafone Idea use Huawei's technology in some circles.

With Jio working on its own 5G tech and Airtel teaming up with Nokia for 5G, this leaves Vodafone Idea which is in a precarious position right now. Given the fact that it has not launched minor features like Wi-Fi Calling, it’s unlikely that the company will look at 5G technology anytime soon.

Why does India want to keep Huawei out?

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Despite security concerns expressed by countries like the US and UK, the Indian government had initially cleared Huawei for 5G trials.

However, now the decision to keep Huawei out of India’s 5G networks seems to have been expedited after the India-China border clashes. The decision to ban Huawei and ZTE from BSNL and MTNL’s 4G networks was taken on June 17.

According to an ET report, security concerns were also behind the decision to ban Huawei and ZTE.

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Commercial rollout of 5G in India could take more than a year

While Jio still has to test out its 5G technology, Airtel could get a head start since Nokia’s 5G solutions are already in use in several countries around the world.

With that said, the commercial rollout of 5G networks in India could take more than a year. The government has not decided yet on the trials, and the 5G spectrum auction has reportedly been pushed back to October-December 2020.

The ET report states that the ban on Huawei and ZTE could lead to an increase of 10-15% in costs for procuring 5G gear.
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