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Sibal denies making Huawei special partner in India’s upcoming telecom testing facility

Union human resources (education) and telecom minister Kapil Sibal has denied media reports that the Home ministry, in charge of India’s security, has objected the Indian Institute of Science’s agreement with a Chinese telecom company to develop testing standards.

Sibal, who brought the Intelligence Bureau (IB) head to a press conference, denied that India’s security was being compromised with the “sharing” of sensitive information with Huawei Technologies, the fastest growing telecom vendor in India.

“There is no sharing of information.. We are seeking information from them to develop our testing protocols,” Sibal said, calling many of the media reports false.

Quoting unnamed sources in the Home ministry, the Economic Times (and others) had reported concerns about bringing in the Chinese vendor Huawei for “providing know how and equipment for a facility that will be a clearing house for all imported telecom gear.”

Sibal said Huawei is not in any sort of privileged position as the same details will be sought from other networking companies such as Juniper, Cisco etc..

He pointed out that Huawei was one of the earliest to express its readiness to divulge with the internal workings of its equipment, to help us develop our testing methodology.

Indeed, Huawei, whose equipment are cheaper by around 25% compared to those of established European vendors, has found its growth in the Indian market slowed down by the increasing concerns that it was loading its networks with software that could leak information from India to China when a switch is flicked on in Beijing.

As a result, while other European and US vendors are reluctant to share their secrets with India, Huawei entered into an agreement with the Indiian Institute of Science in Bangalore (under Sibal’s ministry) under which the latter was supposed to never leak Huawei’s information to anyone.

Sibal pointed out that this agreement was being termed as a “Memorandum of Understanding” or MoU by an ill-informed media. “It is not an MoU, but an NDA (non-disclosure agreement,)” Sibal said

Some in the industry have alleged that Huawei and its Chinese cousin ZTE are the victims of a corporate battle for the billions of dollars worth of network contracts that Indian operators are giving out for setting up 3G, 4G and 2G networks. Huawei and ZTE, being the cheapest suppliers of equipment, have emerged as the favorite of a large number of operators, especially new ones who entered the market recently.

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