NEW DELHI: Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL) said it will not give new contracts to Chinese suppliers Huawei and ZTE for its mainnet expansion due to security concerns, although it will continue to work with these suppliers for the expansion of its radio and transport network for capacity and coverage needs.
“For the core network, we will not give any orders to Chinese suppliers. We are committed to our country and make sure that anything that is sensitive in terms of database and subscriber information, which basically resides in the kernel, does not give it to Chinese suppliers, ”said Jagbir Singh , CTO at VIL at ET.
All communication on a network is encrypted with keys stored in the heart or brain of the network, which means that they cannot be read by base stations. This makes the core critical from a data security point of view.
Vodafone Idea is moving forward with Huawei and ZTE to address capacity and congestion issues in radio and wireless transport networks, but only in areas where Chinese suppliers already serve telecom operators.
“… wherever few radio sites are needed for capacity, then we will absolutely buy from them.”
Singh, however, added that the telecommunications company would not give any new orders to Chinese vendors to enter new territory until the government publishes its policy. “We will wait for the policy [on Chinese vendors]. “
“Capacity growth cannot be done on any other equipment if the Chinese are present in a particular circle. So wherever an improvement in capacity is needed, we will go with Chinese. Otherwise, we don’t consider them for new territory for radio and transportation, ”Singh explained.
“Any additional quantities for transport and radio, we will continue to buy from them as long as the government gives permission.” The growth of the network must continue with all the suppliers forming part of a circle, ”he added.
The struggling telecommunications operator is already ordering equipment from the four suppliers – Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei and ZTE to improve the quality of its 4G services. “We are also making sure that our core and our transport are prepared for the growth of traffic on 4G and for the future 5G. We give orders and we make sure that any investment we make serves the goals of 4G and 5G, ”he added.
Notably, Bharti Airtel also gave Huawei a new contract worth Rs 300 crore to expand its national long-distance optical transport network (NLD), ET reported last week.
Huawei, which faces allegations of involvement in snooping on behalf of the Chinese state, is also hoping to win new business from both Vodafone Idea and Airtel this year.
“We are confident because we have the best technology and the best after-sales service. So we are confident that we have business … we are in active discussions, ”David Li, CEO of Huawei India, told ET separately.
Yash Jethani, director of research, telecommunications, IDC Asia / Pacific, said the idea for Airtel and Vodafone turns to Huawei because they are one of the best in RAN, which is essential on the side of the infrastructure and also has a lower cost than its competitors. “The cost of auctioning the spectrum has become the deciding factor for telecom operators and that puts Huawei at an advantage,” he added.
India is in the process of preparing a list of reliable sources for procurement of equipment for telecommunications networks, including core, with emphasis on encouragement of Indian network equipment suppliers. India is preparing such a list amid national security concerns, especially following allegations of cyber espionage by Chinese actors such as Huawei and ZTE, on behalf of the Chinese state.
Vodafone Idea is currently expanding its network with new sites. “We are buying new sites. We have 1,79,000 physical locations in India to cover over 1 billion people in India, ”Jagbir said.
The telecom operator is confident to complete the redevelopment process from 3G to 4G by March 2022. Singh said it has been underway at district and state level for the past 18-20. month. “… and will continue to do so.” We continue to redevelop the spectrum for 4G. Our integration is complete. We are now ensuring that the focus is on quality in all network functions. We already use DSS and DSR technologies. “