India expected to ban Huawei and ZTE from its 5G networks

Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE are coming under fire again — and this time its India that is raising the red flag. The country is expected to use an investment rule to stop gear from Huawei and ZTE being deployed in Indian 5G mobile networks, according to Bloomberg.

By using an investment rule that was amended on July 23, the country will be able to restrict bidders from any country that it shares a land border with because of national security concerns.

This is another big financial hit for Huawei and ZTE. Indian operators, according to IDC, were expected to invest around $4 billion in their 5G networks. Both Huawei and ZTE have both repeatedly denied that their equipment poses any type of security risk.

The final decision must still be approved by the Indian Prime Minister’s office and is expected to be announced in the next week or two. If banned, India joins a growing list of countries, including the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, that have prevented Huawei from deploying 5G equipment in their wireless networks because of security issues.

In July, the UK government announced its ban after attempting various compromises —including just banning Huawei from the core part of the network but allowing it to be in the radio access network. However, in the end, it decided to completely ban the vendor and require its wireless operators to rip-and-replace any existing Huawei gear from their networks.

According to Bloomberg, the Ministry of Communications has said it will soon begin discussions with India’s mobile operators about upcoming 5G trials. The Ministry said those trials had been delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders.

However, India’s 5G plans, including its 5G spectrum auction, have been uncertain for some time. Last May it was reported that the 5G auctions were delayed until 2021 because of the poor financial health of the Indian mobile operators and because many believed the reserve price of the spectrum was too high to attract interest.