Hasty launch of 5G mobile services without a matching preparation to indigenise mobile devices has strategic implications



Shri A K Bhalla

Union Home Secretary

Dear Shri Bhalla,

The Dept of Telecommunications (DOT) had conducted 5G spectrum auctions recently, without fully appreciating the strategic implications of privatising the spectrum and without adequate preparatory steps to indigenise the 5G mobile technology so as to make sure that the country’s mobile services do not become captive to foreign agencies.

In this connection, I have requested the C&AG to audit the whole process of 5G spectrum sale in view of my concerns. You may like to access the relevant correspondence at the following weblinks.





The Indian mobile market is dominated today by Chinese-made mobile devices, most of which already stand equipped with 5G capability. I understand that the Chinese-made mobiles have a market share of 70%. During the last quarter alone, it appears that at least 36.4 million smartphones entered India from Chinese sources. As the present trend suggests, as evident from the pattern emerging from the recent 5G spectrum auctions, it is the “stand-alone” 5G technology that will get a boost, which in turn will require a sufficient number of matching 5G mobile devices entering the Indian market, even before the Indian telecom companies can make available mobile devices from sources other than China. In other words, considering that not enough preparation has been made to indigenise the 5G mobile technology, there will be a further boost to the share of Chinese-made mobiles in India in the immediate future. This will evidently result in a large scale access for Chinese mobiles to the higher spectrum bands, which in turn will have serious strategic implications (https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/chinese-smartphone-players-to-gain-as-modi-prepares-for-5g-launch-global-times/94537341)

In my correspondence with the Telecommunications Dept, I had specifically pointed out to possible interference from the use of spectrum by mobiles with the GPS location system, which in itself can have national security implications (https://www.computerworld.com/article/2509447/lightsquared-vs–gps-raises-big-spectrum-issues.html). A copy of my letter to the DOT Secretary is attached here for your reference.

I am not sure whether your Ministry has had the time to examine these aspects in depth from the point of view of both internal and external security implications.

I hope that your Ministry will look into these concerns and render appropriate advice to the government at the earliest.


Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to Govt of India

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