In December, India said it would allow all vendors to participate in 5G trials with vendors. But the latest report of a potential ban on the Chinese firms appears to be a U-turn.
Tensions between India and China have been rising over their disputed border high in the Western Himalayas and a clash earlier this month left 20 Indian soldiers dead.
“The China-India … dispute, compounded with the economic stress caused due to the (coronavirus) pandemic, has likely forced the government thinking to adopt a strategy similar to U.S. to potentially retaliate in a way where it would hurt China the most,” Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint Research, told CNBC.
India’s biggest mobile network, Reliance Jio, uses Samsung for its older 4G network. The other two largest players — Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea — use a mixture of vendors including Huawei. All three carriers have submitted applications to do 5G tests with various vendors including Huawei, Indian publication the Financial Express reported this month.
Huawei gear makes up one-third of Bharti Airtel’s current network and 40% of Vodafone Idea’s network, according to Counterpoint Research.
It would be a “significant loss” for Huawei and ZTE if the government goes ahead and bans them, Shah said.
All three Indian telcos were not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.