India will not bar any equipment suppliers, such as China's Huawei, in the upcoming trials for 5G, with Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday saying the government will allocate airwaves to all telecom service providers for conducting trials of super-fast speed 5G networks.
Huawei rivals western equipment makers, such as Ericsson, and is banned in the US. Many countries, however, have allowed telecom service providers to use Chinese gears. And now, India has also indicated its unwillingness to keep any company out of 5G trials.
The government has decided to give 5G spectrum for trials to all operators in the country, Prasad said on Monday on the sidelines of a telecom event.
This implies that all operators, backed by equipment vendors they have decided to partner with, will be able to participate in the upcoming 5G trials in the country, and the stance is expected to spell a relief for Chinese gear maker Huawei.
"The age of 5G is coming... We have taken a decision to give 5G spectrum for trials to all the players," Prasad said.
An in-principle decision has been taken in this regard, Prasad said adding that the telecom department will work out the details.
"I would like new innovations by Indian players in 5G. 5G is future, it is speed. Therefore, we will encourage new innovations in 5G," the minister said.
Asked specifically about the status of Huawei as the government has decided to allow all telecom operators and equipment makers for 5G trials, the minister said, "All players mean all players".
When contacted, Huawei India CEO Jay Chen said in a e-mail statement that the company firmly believes that only technology innovations and high-quality networks will be the key to rejuvenating the Indian telecom industry.
Thanking the Indian government for their continued faith in the company, Chen said, "We have our full confidence in the Modi government to drive 5G in India. We have our full confidence in Indian government and industry to partner with best technology for India's own long-term benefit and also for cross-industry development." Huawei is committed to India, the company said.
The 5G trials are widely-expected to begin in the last quarter of the current financial year. Sources had recently said the government has received seven applications for 5G trials and added that all operators and vendors (including Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE and Samsung) are keen to participate.
In September this year, Huawei had said it is hopeful that the Indian government will treat all foreign investments "fairly" and had urged the world's largest democracy to make an "independent decision" on permitting 5G trials in the country.
At that time, the Chinese firm had also sought to assure the Indian government that the company is fully compliant with regulations in India, and of addressing concerns around cybersecurity.
Earlier this year, the US had banned Huawei, the world's leader in telecom equipment and the number two smartphone producer, over concerns of security and Washington had been pressuring other countries to restrict the operations of the Chinese telecom firm.
The US President Donald Trump-led administration had placed Huawei and its affiliates on a blacklist, a move that banned the Chinese telecom equipment company from purchasing parts and components from American firms without the US government approval. However, it had subsequently relaxed some of the restrictions, to reduce disruption for its customers.