Buy only from ‘trusted sources’: Govt. to telcos

Centre amends licence norms for gear

Telecom service providers will be able to procure equipment only from ‘trusted sources’ as defined by the government.

This follows the Department of Telecom on Wednesday amending licence conditions for equipment procurement.

The move, seen as a step towards excluding Chinese telecom equipment makers such as Huawei and ZTE, comes into effect from June 15, and would require service providers to take permission from the National Cyber Security Coordinator (NCSC) for upgradation of existing networks utilising equipment not designated as trusted products.

“The government through the Designated Authority [the NCSC] 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,” as per the government notification.

It added that with effect from June 15, the licensee will only connect ‘trusted products’ in its network and also seek permission from the designated authority for upgradation of existing network utilising equipment not designated as ‘trusted products.’

These directions, it said, would not affect ongoing annual maintenance contracts (AMCs) or updates to existing equipment already inducted in the network as on the date of effect.

The NCSC will notify the categories of equipment for which the security requirements related to ‘trusted sources’ are applicable and may also notify a list of designated sources from whom no procurement can be done. The procedure for inclusion in the list of trusted sources will be issued by the NCSC.

Reacting to the decision, Tony Verghese, partner, J. Sagar Associates, said that the amendment was an expected move in light of the 5G auctions. “The curbs imposed by Press Note 3 on FDI, is prompting policy changes in various sectors. The recent incidents allegedly by Chinese hackers, has definitely hastened the process with the government inclined towards a new national strategy to strengthen the country’s security.”

“Telecom equipment plays a vital role in telecom connectivity and data transfer, which has a direct impact on the national security of India. Therefore, such a policy decision, which definitely impacts significant market players, clearly conveys the Government’s stand on national security,” he added.

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