China expresses concern over its absence in India’s 5G trials

China expressed concern on Wednesday over India’s move to not grant any Chinese firm permission to participate in 5G trials in the world’s second largest internet market as the two neighboring nations struggle to navigate business ties amid their geo-political tensions.

India’s Department of Telecommunications earlier this week approved over a dozen firm’s applications to conduct a six-month trial to test the use and application of 5G technology in the country.

Among those who have received the approval include international giants such as Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung that will collaborate with Indian telecom operators Jio Platforms, Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and MTNL for the trial.

Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese companies, that have been operating in India for several years, haven’t received the approval from the Indian government to participate in the upcoming trial. The Indian ministry said earlier this week that it granted permission to those firms that had been picked by the telecom operators.

Wang Xiaojian, the spokesperson of Chinese Embassy in India, said in a statement on Wednesday that the nation expresses “concern and regret that Chinese telecommunications companies have not been permitted to conduct 5G trials with Indian Telecom Service Providers in India.”

“Relevant Chinese companies have been operating in India for years, providing mass job opportunities and making contribution to India’s infrastructure construction in telecommunications. To exclude Chinese telecommunications companies from the trials will not only harm their legitimate rights and interests, but also hinder the improvement of the Indian business environment, which is not conducive to the innovation and development of related Indian industries,” added Xiaojian.

Last year, Airtel (India’s second-largest telecom operator) had said that it was open to collaborating with global technology firms, including those from China, for components. “Huawei, over the last 10 or 12 years, has become extremely good with their products to a point where I can safely today say their products at least in 3G, 4G that we have experienced is significantly superior to Ericsson and Nokia without a doubt. And I use all three of them,” Sunil Mittal, the founder of Airtel, said at a conference last year.

In the same panel, then U.S. commerce secretary Wilbur Ross had urged India and other allies of the U.S. to avoid Huawei.

The geo-political tension between India and China escalated last year with skirmishes at the shared border. India, which early last year amended a rule to make it difficult for Chinese firms to invest in Indian companies, has since banned over 200 apps including TikTok, UC Browser and PUBG Mobile that have ties with China over national security concerns.

India’s move earlier this week follows similar decisions taken by the U.S., U.K. and Australia, all of which have expressed concerns about Huawei and ZTE and their ties with the Chinese government.

“The Chinese side hopes that India could do more to enhance mutual trust and cooperation between the two countries, and provide an open, fair, just, and non-discriminatory investment and business environment for market entities from all countries, including China, to operate and invest in India,” wrote Xiaojian.

Last year, China had expressed “serious concerns” and “firmly opposed” India’s charges that Chinese apps posed national security concerns. The Chinese Embassy had alleged that by banning apps with links to China, New Delhi was engaging in “discriminatory practices” that “violated WTO rules.”

#5g, #airtel, #asia, #china, #government, #huawei, #india, #jio-platforms, #vodafone-idea, #zte

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India grants approval for 5G trials, avoids Chinese firms

Indian telecom ministry on Tuesday said it has granted several telecom service providers permission to conduct a six-month trial for the use and application of 5G technology in the country. New Delhi has granted approval to over a dozen firm spanning multiple nationalities — excluding China.

Among the telecom operators that have received the grant include Jio Platforms, Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and MTNL. These firms, the ministry said, will work with original equipment manufacturers and tech providers Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, and C-Dot. Jio Platforms, additionally, has been granted permission to conduct trials using its own homegrown technology.

In a press note, the Department of Telecommunications didn’t specify anything about China, but a person familiar with the matter confirmed that Chinese giants Huawei and ZTE aren’t among those who have received the approval.

The Indian government branch said it gave permission to telecom service providers, who chose their own priorities and technology partners. The experimental spectrum is being given in various bands which include the mid-band (3.2 GHz to 3.67 GHz), millimeter wave band (24.25 GHz to 28.5 GHz) and in Sub-Gigahertz band (700 GHz). Technology service providers will also be permitted to use their existing spectrum owned by them (800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2500 MHz) to conduct of 5G trials.

“The permission letters specify that each TSP will have to conduct trials in rural and semi-urban settings also in addition to urban settings so that the benefit of 5G Technology proliferates across the country and is not confined only tourban areas. The TSPs are encouraged to conduct trials using 5Gi technology in addition to the already known 5G Technology,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The objectives of conducting 5G trials include testing 5G spectrum propagation characteristics especially in the Indian context; model tuning and evaluation of chosen equipment andvendors; testing of indigenous technology; testing of applications (such as tele-medicine, tele-education, augmented/ virtual reality, drone-based agricultural monitoring, etc.); and to test 5G phones and devices.”

Last year, Airtel had said that it was open to the idea of collaborating with global firms for components. “Huawei, over the last 10 or 12 years, has become extremely good with their products to a point where I can safely today say their products at least in 3G, 4G that we have experienced is significantly superior to Ericsson and Nokia without a doubt. And I use all three of them,” Sunil Mittal, the founder of Airtel, said at a conference last year. In the same panel, then U.S. commerce secretary Wilbur Ross had urged India and other allies of the U.S. to avoid Huawei.

The geo-political tension between India and China escalated later in the year with skirmishes at the shared border. India, which early last year amended a rule to make it difficult for Chinese firms to invest in Indian companies, has since banned over 200 apps including TikTok, UC Browser, and PUBG Mobile that have affiliation with China.

#airtel, #asia, #china, #huawei, #india, #jio-platforms, #vodafone, #vodafone-idea, #zte

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Indian telecom giant Vodafone Idea rebrands as ‘Vi’

Vodafone Idea, one of the largest telecom operators in India, has rebranded as ‘Vi’ as it looks to better leverage the unified venture between British telecom giant Vodafone Group’s India business and billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla’s Idea Cellular two years after they merged in the country.

“As the integration of two businesses is now complete, it’s time for a fresh start. That’s why we believe that now is the perfect time to launch Vi, one company which provides the strength of Vodafone India and Idea,” Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read said at a virtual conference on Monday.

Vodafone Idea, once the largest telecom operator in the country with over 400 million subscribers, has lost more than 100 million subscribers in recent years to new comer India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani’s telecom venture Jio Platforms as it scaled to the top with its cut-rate mobile data tariff.

Jio Platforms has also attracted over $20 billion in investment from high-profile firms including Facebook and Google in recent months.

The logo of Vi (Image: Vodafone Idea)

“India is the second largest telecom market and the largest data consumer, globally. With 1.2 billion Indians accessing voice and data services at the world’s lowest tariffs across 500,000 villages, the ubiquitous wireless network in India is unmatched for its reach and impact in people’s lives,” said Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of Aditya Birla Group and Vodafone Idea, at the conference today.W

“With our new brand — Vi, we stand committed to partner with government to accelerate India’s progression towards a digital economy, enabling millions of citizens to connect to the digital revolution and build a better tomorrow.”

Vodafone Idea — or Vi,  has yet to turn a profit since it joined forces. The company said it will continue to invest in 4G wireless technology, which now reaches more than 1 billion people in India, double the coverage at the time of merger announcement.

Last week, the company received approval from shareholders to sell stake worth $3.4 billion by selling shares and raising debt. The company received a much needed relief in India earlier this month after nation’s apex court granted Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel, another giant telecom operator in India, with 10 years to pay billions they owe to the government.

Prior to the court ruling, Vodafone Group had warned that Indian government’s short-deadline of three months to clear the dues were not feasible for the telecom firm and it would have no choice but to exit the market.

#airtel, #asia, #bharti-airtel, #india, #reliance-jio, #vodafone, #vodafone-idea

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How Reliance Jio Platforms became India’s biggest telecom network

It’s raised $5.7 billion from Facebook. It’s taken $1.5 billion from KKR, another $1.5 billion from Vista Equity Partners, $1.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund$1.35 billion from Silver Lake, $1.2 billion from Mubadala, $870 million from General Atlantic, $750 million from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, $600 million from TPG, and $250 million from L Catterton.

And it’s done all that in just nine weeks.

India’s Reliance Jio Platforms is the world’s most ambitious tech company. Founder Mukesh Ambani has made it his dream to provide every Indian with access to affordable and comprehensive telecommunications services, and Jio has so far proven successful, attracting nearly 400 million subscribers in just a few years.

The unparalleled growth of Reliance Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of India’s most-valued firm (Reliance Industries), has shocked rivals and spooked foreign tech companies such as Google and Amazon, both of which are now reportedly eyeing a slice of one of the world’s largest telecom markets.

What can we learn from Reliance Jio Platforms’s growth? What does the future hold for Jio and for India’s tech startup ecosystem in general?

Through a series of reports, Extra Crunch is going to investigate those questions. We previously profiled Mukesh Ambani himself, and in today’s installment, we are going to look at how Reliance Jio went from a telco upstart to the dominant tech company in four years.

The birth of a new empire

Months after India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, launched his telecom network Reliance Jio, Sunil Mittal of Airtel — his chief rival — was struggling in public to contain his frustration.

That Ambani would try to win over subscribers by offering them free voice calling wasn’t a surprise, Mittal said at the World Economic Forum in January 2017. But making voice calls and the bulk of 4G mobile data completely free for seven months clearly “meant that they have not gotten the attention they wanted,” he said, hopeful the local regulator would soon intervene.

This wasn’t the first time Ambani and Mittal were competing directly against each other: in 2002, Ambani had launched a telecommunications company and sought to win the market by distributing free handsets.

In India, carrier lock-in is not popular as people prefer pay-as-you-go voice and data plans. But luckily for Mittal in their first go around, Ambani’s journey was cut short due to a family feud with his brother — read more about that here.

#apple, #apps, #asia, #bharti-airtel, #extra-crunch, #facebook, #india, #mark-zuckerberg, #market-analysis, #media, #microsoft, #mobile, #mukesh-ambani, #payments, #reliance-industries, #telecom, #venture-capital, #vodafone, #vodafone-idea, #xiaomi

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Amazon reportedly considering $2 billion stake in Indian telecom operator Bharti Airtel

Amazon .com may follow its American peer Facebook’s footsteps in securing a slice of India’s booming telecom market.

The e-commerce giant, which has invested over $6.5 billion in India, is in early-stage talks to buy a 5% stake worth at least $2 billion in Bharti Airtel, the third-largest telecom operator in India, according to unnamed sources cited by Reuters.

Amazon’s interest in Bharti Airtel comes as Google is said to be in separate talks to buy stake in Vodafone Idea, the second largest telecom operator in India. In April, their fellow rival Facebook bought a 9.99% stake in the nation’s top telecom operator, Reliance Jio Platforms. According to local media reports, Microsoft is also in talks with Reliance Jio Platforms and could invest as much as $2 billion.

Facebook’s investment shows India is a major new battleground for Big Tech, said Amit Pau, a former Vodafone Global Group MD and now COO and Partner at Accloud. “Facebook’s focused attack on Amazon in Indian e-commerce through its partnership with Jio Platforms is the firing gun of an epic showdown between the world’s biggest companies that will see Indian consumers win better services through digitization and boost the economy.”

The American giants have formed multiple partnerships with telecom operators in India, a key overseas market for them, over the years to expand their reach in the nation. Microsoft has a partnership with Reliance Jio to bring Office 365 to millions of small businesses at subsidized cost. Google maintains a similar partnership with Airtel for its Google Cloud suite.

Amazon, which leads the cloud market in India, currently does not maintain any similar deals with a telecom operator — though it had a partnership with Bharti Airtel in the past.

#amazon, #amazon-com, #asia, #bharti-airtel, #ecommerce, #facebook, #google, #india, #microsoft, #reliance-jio, #vodafone, #vodafone-idea

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