Amid restrictions for Chinese technology majors to operate in the Indian market, Bharti Airtel has announced to have roped in Chinese gear major Huawei as a partner to roll out a Rs 300 crore telecom infrastructure expansion contract.
According to a report in ETTelecom, the telecom major has already struck a deal with the equipment manufacturer and has even issued a procurement order (PO) to Huawei.
The deal is part of Airtel’s plan to expand its National Long Distance (NLD) network which is currently run by Huawei. The NLD optical transport network is considered to be crucial as it carries inter-circle and international traffic and helps manage the network capacity. It also carries internet traffic and traffic from main landing stations.
Meanwhile, facing global restrictions, the contract has come as a respite for the Chinese company that is facing an existential crisis in India following souring relations between India and China in recent times. Following restrictions slapped by the US government for 5G deployment by the Chinese major, the Indian government has also put in place a strict due diligence process for the company projects.
The company is also facing global isolation for its 5G network deployments over allegations of its involvement in cyber-snooping on behalf of the Chinese state. Huawei has denied any wrongdoing.
Following new strict compliance rules by the Indian government, Huawei has also lost business from Bharti Airtel over the last 15-18 months. Airtel has replaced Huawei with European vendors in two circles. The latest deal was cleared after Airtel floated a request for proposal (RFP) with other vendors including Nokia, Ciena and Infinera for the NLD network.
The deal brings many surprises as in recent times the Indian government is preparing a list of trusted sources’ under the National Security Directive for acquiring equipment for telecom networks.
According to experts, the move is likely to keep Chinese equipment makers Huawei and ZTE out of India’s 5G deployments. This is in line with the US and the UK which have taken steps to bar them from critical infrastructure.