Sources in the government said the ministry has decided to “firmly tell BSNL” not to use Chinese equipment in view if security issues.
New Delhi, June 17:
The Telecom department has decided to rule out the use of Chinese equipment in the upgradation of the 4G equipment of the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited or BSNL. Sources in the government said the ministry has decided to “firmly tell BSNL” not to use Chinese equipment in view if security issues. Sources said the department has also decided to rework the tender in this regard. The government is also considering asking private operators to reduce their dependence on equipment made by Chinese firms.
Telecom companies like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have been working with Huawei in their current networks, while ZTE works with state-run BSNL.
The government’s decision came amid a huge tension at Ladakh, where 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese troops on Monday evening. This was the first time in nearly five decades that fatalities were reported at the Line of Actual Control, the de facto border with China.
The network security of equipment made by Chinese companies are always doubtful, sources told NDTV.
In 2012, a committee of US lawmakers warned of cyber espionage threats from telecom networks built by Chinese companies and suggested that American companies considering to do business with Huawei and ZTE should look for other vendors. The Chinese companies had strongly denied the accusations.
Two years later, parliament was told that Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei has allegedly hacked into the BSNL network and the government is investigating the matter.
In February, during US President Donald Trump’s visit to India, Mukesh Ambani had assured him that Reliance Jio will not have a single Chinese network part in its upcoming 5G network.Reliance Jio is the only network in the world that doesn’t use Chinese equipment, Mr Ambani told Mr Trump. Jio has South Korea’s Samsung as a networking partner for both its 4G and 5G networks.
Upgradation of 4G facilities is part of the BSNL’s revival package and earlier this year, there was a tug of war between BSNL employees and the government over the latter’s insistence on the use of homegrown firms to boost its Make in India policy. The BSNL employees had pointed out that all its competitors — Bharati Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Jio — were using equipment from multinationals.