Allowing Chinese telecom major Huawei to participate in 5G trials will make India “vulnerable”, said VK Saraswat, member of NITI Aayog, on Saturday. He felt the recent move by the government is going to be major “set-back” for indigenous players.
“The worst thing that has happened … India has now given permission to Huawei — which is one of the major Chinese companies — to do the trials of 5G in this country. Now that is going to be a major setback, because today technologically speaking China leads the 5G technology in the world. The moment they will do the trials in India, they will obviously score over indigenous manufacturers who are engaged in 5G equipment development. The service providers will have no other option but to buy the Chinese technology and hence we will be vulnerable again,” Saraswat said during an interaction with mediapersons at the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology, where he was the chief guest at the 16th convocation.
He added the Centre’s decision has come at a time when India is struggling to deal with cyber security issues related to electronic goods being imported from foreign countries, including China.
“Our imports of electronics is next to our imports of fossil fuel. In fact, it is going to overtake now … Whatever is coming from foreign countries, including China, we do not know what is the kind of malware … embedded there,” Saraswat said, talking about Indian telecom networks that are prone to cyber attacks.
“I personally believe, that there should be a movement in the direction that we should ensure that more companies, educational institutions and national laboratories, … quickly start developing 5G equipment and bring it into the market,” he said, pointing out that Indian players will also end up paying licence fee to Chinese players who have developed the software for 5G.
“We will be draining out our foreign exchange and so it is important that software agencies here … develop their own applications, so that it will help our own 5G networks. These are some of the things bothering me,” he said.
During his interaction, the former director general of DRDO also said India should concentrate on using the 4G network more efficiently. “All the technologies for 2G, 3G and 4G have been imported. Though fibre optics have spread to every corner of the country, internet is yet to reach many villages. The reason, is that service providers do not want to go to villagers due to lack of consumer base and the resultant lack of profitability … If we utilise the 4G completely, then it is good for our economy. 5G will increase speed, data rates and storage capacity. IT will affect the economy also. But we used use the capacity of 4G fully and by that time the industry and our education institutions can come up with indigenous 5G equipment,” he noted.
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