Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei has teamed up with mobile service providers Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea who have submitted applications to the government for conducting 5G trials.

“Huawei has partnered with Bharti Airtel for trials in Bangalore and with Vodafone Idea to hold trials in Delhi,” a person aware of the development said requesting anonymity.

The government had initiated the process for deploying 5G in the country on 31 December by meeting major operators and vendors to discuss the broad road map for the trials, which are expected to happen in January-March.

The last date to submit applications for trials was 15 January.

The government will assess the applications and allocate the trial spectrum to its licensees, which are telecom service providers.

An emailed query sent to Huawei was unanswered till press time.

This comes at a time when Chinese telecom equipment maker is facing global scrutiny over network security concerns. The US has claimed that Huwaei’s 5G equipment could be used by China to spy on other countries, an allegation the company has repeatedly denied.

Australia and Japan have also barred Huawei, while Canada and New Zealand are likely to follow suit. Many countries in Europe are yet to take a decision, while Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have welcomed Huawei.

5G is the next generation of wireless technology and will boost data speeds and propel the Internet of Things, with the potential to bring radical changes in agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare and education.

Earlier this month, DoT also approved prices for the next spectrum auction that will happen by April. Of the 8,300 megahertz (MHz) of airwaves the government plans to offer, 6,050MHz have been allocated for 5G. The 3,300-3,600MHz band allocated for 5G has been priced at 492 crore per megahertz.

In June, DoT had approved a one-year 5G trial period and a one-time fee of 5,000 for entities seeking experimental spectrum to conduct trials.

The government also announced its intention to focus on three big social sectors for deployment of 5G—education, agriculture, waste management and healthcare.

To be sure, India’s 5G trials and commercial rollout are already far behind those of global peers, which have even deployed commercial networks.

South Korea was the first to commercially start 5G services in April. China’s state-run telecom operators China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom rolled out 5G services in November to consumers in 50 Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

The US’s Verizon Communications kick-started 5G services in October 2018 in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, using non-standard gear.

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