Amid the rising global demand to ban Chinese technology companies from participating in 5G networks, the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have listed few “Clean Telcos” not using Chinese firms in their networks, including the Jio Network in India. In a tweet posted today, Pompeo said, “The tide is turning toward trusted 5G vendors and away from Huawei. The world’s leading telecom companies—Telefonica, Orange, Jio, Telstra, and many more—are becoming “Clean Telcos.” They are rejecting doing business with tools of the CCP surveillance state, like Huawei.”
The secretary of state noted that Reliance Jio is not using Chinese equipment in its network, making it free from surveillance by the Chinese government, along with some other companies across the world.
It is alleged that Chinese technology firms, especially the telecom infrastructure giant Huawei, include spying technology in its telecom equipment which allow the Chinese government to remotely spy on the countries where their technology is deployed. This apprehension has been greatest in the deployment of the next generation telecom networks across the globe, the 5G technology. Huawei has emerged as a major supplier for technologies and equipment to deploy 5G, and they can offer scale and price that can’t be matched by few other companies operating in the field of telecom infrastructure.
In March this year, the Donald Trump administration had moved to block from Huawei from accessing US technology and chip makers. The rule imposed by US Commerce Department bars companies around the world from using American-made machinery and software to design or produce chips for Huawei or its entities. The United Kingdom govt is also considering banning the Chinese firm from its 5G networks. UK telecom firms already using Huawei equipment has been asked to stock up on the company’s kits in light of the sanctions by US.
While several telecom companies across the globe use Huawei equipment in their networks, Reliance Jio has been one major company to not use them since its inception. The company had launched its 4G network using equipment from Korean giant Samsung, and both the companies are also working together for 5G. Apart from that, the company also uses 4G voice technology supplied by Oracle and Nokia. In March this year, Jio had also announced that it has developed in-house 5G technology.
It is interesting to note that, in February this year itself, Mukesh Ambani had informed US President Donald Trump that Jio is the only network in the world that does not use single Chinese equipment. During an interaction with business leaders with Trump in New Delhi during his maiden trip to India in February this year, the president had asked Ambani, “You’re doing 4G. Are you going to do 5G too?.” To this Ambani had replied, “We’re going to do 5G. We’re the only network in the world that doesn’t have a single Chinese component.”
While Donald Trump has been engaged with trade war with China, his anti-China sentiment was not that high at that time. It has peaked after the Coronavirus pandemic hit the world, as Trump blamed China for hiding information about the virus during its initial phase. After that, Trump has raised his pitch against China, and has taken steps against Huawei.