To keep China out, DoT mandates trusted sources for telecom networks

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New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) Spelling the end of Chinese equipment in Indian telecom networks, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has mandated that from June 15 this year telecom operators will only use “trusted products” in their networks.
In a communication to telecom operators, DoT said as the licensor, it has amended the Unified Access Services Licence Agreement and added a clause under security conditions.
“With effect from June 15, 2021, the licensee shall only connect Trusted Products in its network and also seek permission from designated authority for upgradation of existing network utilizing the telecommunication equipment not designated as Trusted Products.
“However, these directions will not affect ongoing annual maintenance contracts (AMC) or updates to existing equipment already inducted in the network as on date of effect,” the DoT said.
As per the amended clause, “The government through the designated authority will have the right to impose conditions for procurement of telecommunication equipment on grounds of defence of India,or matters directly or indirectly related thereto, for national security.
“Designated Authority for this purpose shall be National Cyber Security Coordinator. In this regard, the licensee shall provide information as and when asked by the Designated Authority”.
“Designated Authority shall notify the categories of equipment for which the security requirement related to trusted sources are applicable. For the said categories of equipment, Designated Authority shall notify the trusted sources along with the associated Telecommunication Equipment (Trusted Products).
“The designated authority may also notify a list of designated sources from whom procurement may not be done. Procurement for inclusion of telecommunication equipment in the list of trusted sources will be issued by the Designated Authority,” DoT said to operators.
Once implemented, the move would make it difficult for Chinese telecom equipment suppliers like Huawei or ZTE to procure supply orders from the Indian telecom players such as Jio, Airtel or Vodafone Idea.
Huawei and ZTE have been under global scrutiny for allegedly installing “backdoor” vulnerabilities in a desperate bid to do spying for the Chinese government. In the wake of the India-China border tensions, the government’s action plan on telecom front seems much appreciated and awaited by the Central security and intelligence agencies.

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