India tightens restrictions on Huawei, ZTE

India's operators will be forced under new government rules to avoid using Chinese vendors for network expansion in the latest clampdown on Huawei and ZTE.

A government mandate will limit operators to suppliers that have obtained "trusted source" approval from Indian authorities, according to an update on the Department of Telecommunications website.

(Source: rahul jarwal on Unsplash)
(Source: rahul jarwal on Unsplash)

Neither Huawei nor ZTE qualifies as a "trusted source."

The update will affect service providers that have continued to work with Chinese vendors on network expansion, even if they have been avoiding Huawei and ZTE for new projects.

They seem likely to include Bharti Airtel, which reportedly gave a contract worth 1.5 billion India rupees (US$18.8 million) to Huawei for extending its National Long Distance (NLD) network earlier this year.

Reliance Jio, conversely, claims not to have a single Chinese component in its network.

According to the DoT's wording, rule changes could also apply to work done after June 15, 2021.

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The latest attempt to bar Chinese vendors from working in India comes amid rising hostility toward China in government circles.

In 2020, clashes between Chinese and Indian troops in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh preceded bans on several Chinese apps including Helo and TikTok. Authorities also then stopped telcos from working with Chinese companies on 5G trials.

Huawei and ZTE are also barred from selling products for use in 5G networks.

More recently, several Chinese device vendors, including Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo, have been accused of tax evasion.

The market share of Chinese vendors continues to fall in the country, while Finland's Nokia is reportedly swapping out Huawei's equipment in the network of Vodafone Idea.

— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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