New Delhi: Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei is ready to partner with Indian company in manufacturing 5G equipment, including technology transfer, to ease security concerns India may have, said its top official in the country. He called on the government to provide a “level playing field”.
“We are now very open and willing to partner with a local business. We are looking for a local partner and for business reasons we don’t want to divulge any details, ”Huawei India CEO David Li told ET in his first media interview since taking office in May. “We can bring our software or hardware modules and allow a (local) partner to manufacture equipment.”
Li called on the Indian government to lift the uncertainty over Huawei’s participation in the 5G testing and deployment. The Indian government should take into account its “clean” record of the past 20 years before making a decision, he said.
“It’s uncertain now… The government wants to address the security issues, but it should be based on facts and global standards,” Li said. “We hope the Indian government will give us a level playing field to participate. testing (5G). “
The Chinese company faces allegations of involvement in espionage on behalf of the Chinese state. The Indian government – amid border tensions with China – has informally pushed state and even private telecom operators to stop sourcing equipment there, citing national security. But so far there has been no official communication banning Chinese sellers. Huawei has denied any wrongdoing.
The government is however preparing a list of “trusted sources” under the National Security Directive for the supply of telecommunications network equipment. Experts say the move is aimed at preventing Huawei and its Chinese rival ZTE from deploying 5G in India, in line with the US and UK, which have taken steps to exclude them from critical infrastructure.
When asked if the company has been consulted as part of the process of identifying trusted suppliers, Li said, “Our position is communicated through our customers, industry and directly. I think giving operators the choice of the best technologies and competitive advantages will benefit everyone. “
Huawei is also open to setting up a test lab in India, as it has done in the UK and Brussels, but only if others are invited to do so as well. are ready to contribute, ”he said. “Otherwise, if they ask us alone, it’s very, very expensive. In addition, there should be no form of discrimination. “
The Chinese company said it has so far invested $ 2 billion in India, including $ 170 million in its research and development center in Bangalore. The company’s manufacturing plant in Chennai stopped production a few years ago due to weak demand from Indian telecom operators.
“We will continue to invest for sure. Internally, we seek to focus heavily on R&D. R&D and services are a much higher priority than the manufacturing segment. On the manufacturing side, we will make the (investment) decisions as long as there is volume, ”said the senior executive.
In the meantime, Huawei has secured deals with Airtel and Vodafone Idea, Li said, adding that the company hopes to gain new business from the two telecom operators this year.
ET reported last week that Airtel had given a wireline extension contract worth Rs 300 crore to Huawei for its national long distance network (NLD).
Huawei is competing with its European rivals Ericsson and Nokia, Samsung in South Korea and its Chinese rival ZTE for a share of the Indian market. She is currently providing material to Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea for some of their circles. But he lost some Airtel business in the dark.