By admin July 2, 2019 20:29

The Big Picture – The 5G Debate


The debate about Huawei’s role in the 5G network rollout in India continues. In fact, this comes at a time when the government has made its intentions clear to start with the 5G trials soon. However, a leading newspaper reported that the high-level committee on 5G is opposed to including Chinese vendors including Huawei in the 5G trials. There is a persistent fear that equipment being sold by Chinese vendors includes a backdoor which can allow the Chinese government to access data from 5G networks. Principal scientific adviser K Vijay Raghavan, who heads a high-level committee on 5G, believes India should “go for trials immediately with all, except for Chinese vendors”. Moreover, the committee includes the officials from the Intelligence Bureau, ministry of an external affairs, home ministry, telecom and IT ministry and the department of science & technology. This report comes just days after the US president Donald Trump lifted the trade ban on Huawei, and has asked US based companies to continue working with Huawei. In India, Huawei still doesn’t have the permissions for the 5G trials, and getting these will be crucial. The company has already made the repeated assurances that it does not share any data with any entity. 


What is the hype around 5G technology?

5G technology enables faster transmission of data than any other technology available until now.


What is the biggest fear in involving Chinese technology?

  • US had banned Huawei when the US-China trade war was going on. The ban has been lifted after talks between both the leaders took place.
  • All communication technologies starting from 2G to 4G have been built by Huawei. But, the Chinese regarding the same came only inn 2017 according to which the Chinese companies are duty bound to provide intelligence related data to the Chinese government.
  • Huawei has 30% share in the component sector globally. Its cost is also 20% lower than other competitors. It also provides bank loans and vendor financing at much lower interests than the domestic banks in India.
  • But, it is also to be remembered that Huawei technology cannot be compared to the Google and the Facebook technology provided by the US. The difference lies in the state interference in private sector. So, India should be cautious in dealing with Huawei as it has been manufactured in a country whose government has undue influence on the company unlike that of the US.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              



  • Everyone is concerned about the technological aspect of 5G rather than its use. 5G technology is useful for robotic surgery and driverless cars both of which India is not equipped for until now.
  • 5G is not a wireless technology. In addition to the wireless part, it consists of fixed line, satellite, Wi-Fi and the internet.
  • Besides being the leader in IT services, India could not develop its 5G technology or any other such fast means of communication due to which it is being sandwiched between the US based MNCs and Chinese based Huawei.
  • The presently available networks cannot be used for secure communication as it is based outside India.
  • Besides high spectrum prices, India’s telecom industry is under a financial stress. Banning a major telecom equipment manufacturer like Huawei should be looked into. 


Way forward

  • India should develop its own encoded systems of communication for security related data. It should have its own cyber defense against cyber offense.
  • As in the US and China, India should provide funds to the private sector for developing such technology.
  • There may also be public private partnerships for the development of technology in India.
  • India should rope in tech savvy people at the policy making levels to take a holistic view and to leap forward in technology rather than having bureaucrats to decide what India should have.
  • Before banning Huawei in India, it should conduct a cost-benefit analysis and the security implications of the same.
  • There are other options available for India like Samsung which is ready to roll out 5G in India besides Nokia and Ericson who hold the maximum IPRs of 5G have said they would beat the prices of any other country.
  • There is a geopolitical struggle globally between trade and technology but India should focus on national security, its interests, its requirements and its preparedness rather than aligning with any country. 
  • All stakeholders must be consulted and an informed decision should be taken before banning or going forward with any technology in India offered by other countries.


By admin July 2, 2019 20:29