The fate of Chinese equipment major Huawei’s proposed $3 billion (about Rs 15,000 crore) GSM order from Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) hangs in balance as the home ministry has set up a high level committee to look into the alleged threat to national security by the use of Chinese equipment in the network of state-owned telecom service provider.
“BSNL would give orders to Huawei only after we get report of the committee,” secretary of the department of telecommunications (DoT) Siddharta Behura told Hindustan Times. “This is a serious issue as it relates to the national security. Home ministry has to take a view on it.”
“We are awaiting clearance from DoT,” said Kuldeep Goyal, chairman and managing director, BSNL.
“We have a proven track record of providing secure products and solutions to our customers and we adhere to stringent customer procurement and product security standards,” said a Huawei spokesperson.
Sources said that Huawei is the only qualified bidder in two out of five zones in BSNL’s 92 million line tender. This is the single largest GSM tender in the world with an expected value of about $6 billion (about Rs 30,000 crore).
Huawei has technically qualified for West, East and South zones. Swedish major Ericsson has qualified for North and East zones, said sources.
Being the only technically qualified bidder in the West and the South zones, Huawei could have got orders from BSNL under normal circumstances. In the Eastern zone, it would compete with the Ericsson and the lowest bidder would get the order.
Hindustan Times had first reported on April 24 that intelligence agencies were concerned over the use of Huawei equipment by BSNL and were in discussions with DoT and external affairs ministry.