Govt to prepare list of ‘trusted source’ for purchase of telecom equipment

NEW DELHI: Amid the ongoing border standoff with China, the Centre on Wednesday announced that it will prepare a list of “trusted” telecom vendors from where one can buy equipment.
The government move effectively means that certain telecom equipment vendors from China may face fresh curbs.
“The Cabinet Committee on Security has given approval for National Security Directive on Telecommunication Sector. Under this, in order to maintain integrity of supply chain security, the government will declare a list of trusted sources/products for the benefit of telecom service providers,” Union telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
He added that the companies will be able to buy telecom equipment from these trusted sources.
Under the provisions of this directive, the government will declare a list of trusted sources and trusted products for installation in the country’s telecom network.
“The methodology to designate trusted products will be devised by the designated authority, the National Cyber Security Coordinator. Telecom service providers are required to connect new devices that are designated trusted products,” Prasad mentioned.
“The list of the trusted source and product will be decided based on approval of a committee headed by the deputy national security advisor. The committee will consist of members from relevant departments, ministries and will also have two members from the industry and independent experts. The committee will be called the national security committee on telecom,” Prasad added.
He also said that the fresh directive will also not affect annual maintenance contracts or updates to existing equipment already inducted in the network as on date of effect of the directive.
It has provisions to qualify telecom gears made by domestic players in the trusted category.
“Those that meet the criteria of the Department of Telecommunications’ preferential market access (PMA) scheme will be certified as India trusted sources. The National Security Committee on Telecom will take measures to increase use of equipment from such Indian trusted sources,” Prasad said.
The PMA scheme gives weightage to telecom gears developed and manufactured by indigenous companies.
The DoT will suitably notify guidelines and ensure monitoring of compliance by telecom service providers of the directive.
“The Department of Telecom will make appropriate modifications in the licence conditions for the implementations of the provisions of the directive. The policy will come in to operation after 180 days from the date of approval,” Prasad further said.
The government had earlier blocked 43 mobile apps including Alibaba Workbench, AliExpress, Alipay Cashier, CamCard and WeDate, for engaging in activities prejudicial to India’s sovereignty, integrity, defence, security and public order.
On June 29, the government had blocked access to 59 Chinese apps, including hugely popular TikTok and UC Browser and on September 2, another 118 apps comprising PUBG Mobile Nordic Map, Livik, PUBG Mobile Lite, WeChat Work, Baidu, Tencent Weiyun among others were banned under section 69A of the Information Technology Act.
Since the app ban, Chinese companies have been playing a wait-and-watch game while also keeping an eye on the growing tensions between the two neighbours over a worsening border dispute.
“The legal option is always open to us. However, we would like to first present our case and try and convince the Indian government that their allegations are baseless and not based on facts,” a senior official with a leading Chinese company had said, requesting anonymity.
Meanwhile, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday also approved the next round of spectrum auction to be held in March in which frequencies of 2,251 megahertz would be sold.
The government will not put on sale spectrum frequencies that have been identified for 5G services.

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