Will India ban Huawei and ZTE from mobile network business?

China-based mobile network suppliers Huawei Technologies and ZTE could be out of the telecom business in India with the government set to start formulating an action plan for the implementation of National Security Directive on Telecommunication Sector on Thursday.
Huawei and ZTE in India
A committee headed by the Deputy National Security Advisor (Dy NSA) will clear all equipment and gadgets, including 5G mobile networks and supply chains, with an aim to protect India’s essential national security interests.

The government has conducted a meeting of nodal officials of key ministries on January 21 to formulate a strategy to secure India’s interest in the field of cyber and telecom security, IANS reported.

Officials of the telecom ministry, commerce ministry and the DRDO, along with cyber security experts have attended the important meeting called by the National Security Council Secretariat.

The security action plan aims to classify telecom products / equipment and their suppliers under the trusted and non-trusted categories. Companies or suppliers not trusted by the experts committee would not be allowed to do business with Indian telecom service providers.

Once implemented, the action plan would make it difficult for Chinese telecom equipment suppliers like Huawei or ZTE to procure supply orders from the Indian telecom players such as Jio, Airtel or Vodafone Idea.

Huawei and ZTE have been under global scrutiny for allegedly installing “backdoor” vulnerabilities in a desperate bid to do spying for the Chinese government. In the wake of the India-China border tensions, the government’s action plan on telecom front seems much appreciated and awaited by the Central security and intelligence agencies.

The meeting on the core issue had been called to discuss the methodology to classify trusted products and also to classify trusted contents. Telecom products which would be ‘Made in India’ and identified as trusted would be given incentives by the government.

There would be technology support for Indian companies which pioneer in telecom equipment biz. The government wants that all Indian telecom service providers should procure such trusted products to ensure a fool proof mobile network operation.

Earlier last month, the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had approved the setting up of a new National Security Directive on the telecommunication sector with an aim to classify telecom products and their sources under the ‘trusted’ and ‘non-trusted’ categories.

Telecom and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on December 17, 2020 said that the methodology to designate trusted products will be devised by the designated authority, which is the National Cyber Security Coordinator.

Under the new security directives of the government, the telecom service providers would be required to connect new devices which are designated trusted products. The designated authority will make its decision based on the approval of a committee headed by the Deputy NSA.