10 Mar VIL likely to expand network capacity in six circles through Chinese vendors
NEW DELHI: (VIL) will not give new contracts to Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE for its core network expansion due to security concerns, but will work with these vendors for radio and transport network extension that isn’t considered as sensitive as the former.
Speaking to ET, Jagbir Singh, Chief Technology Officer at Vodafone Idea added that the telco did not purchase spectrum in quantities similar to rivals Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel because it had “enough spectrum” and the telco has no intention of giving up spectrum in its non-priority circles.
“For the core network, we will not be giving any order to Chinese vendors,” Jagbir Singh, Chief Technology Officer at VIL, told ET. “We are committed to our country and we ensure that anything which is sensitive in terms of database and subscriber information, which basically resides in the core, we are not giving to Chinese vendors.”
Communication on a network is encrypted with keys stored in the core or brain of the network, implying they cannot be read by base stations. This makes the core critical from a data security standpoint.
Vodafone Idea thus became the first telco in India to clearly outline its stance vis-à-vis Chinese vendors.
“…wherever few radio sites are required for capacity, we will buy from them,” but only in areas where Chinese vendors already serve the telco, Singh said.
He, however, added that the telco will not give any new order to Chinese vendors to enter into a new territory until the government comes out with its policy. “We will wait for the policy [on Chinese vendors].”
Vodafone Idea’s comments in the wake of allegations of cyber-snooping by Chinese players such as Huawei and ZTE, on behalf of the Chinese state. The vendors have denied any wrongdoing.
In the just ended spectrum sale, Vi was the least aggressive bidder, buying 11.8 MHz in five circles for Rs 1,993.4 crore. In comparison, Jio expanded its spectrum holdings by 55% FOR Rs 57,123 crore, while Airtel acquired 355.45 MHz of spectrum for Rs 18,699 crore.
Singh said that the telco has sufficient 4G capacity to serve 270 million subscribers, which will get enhanced as it continues to rapidly re-farm 3G spectrum to 4G. In several markets, the telco has the largest sub-GHz spectrum holding, which will help it further as 2G spectrum is also getting re-farmed to 4G, he said.
The operator, which has 16 circles that are its focus point, has no intention of giving up any airwaves in the other six non-priority circles as well.
“We are not taking out investment in other circles. The investments will happen proportionately. The investment will happen more in the 16 circles – part one, part two and part three, that is our priority, but we are not planning to take out any equipment from the part four circles or the category C circles,” said Singh.