A Department of Telecommunications-constituted committee has said that BSNL’s 4G network should be built by Indian companies and be subject to source code audits, the Economic Times reported. BSNL, which does not offer 4G nearly anywhere, had a tender for its 4G infrastructure cancelled in the aftermath of the Indo-Chinese border skirmishes, and a newer version is reportedly in the works that would make Chinese telecom gear makers like Huawei and ZTE ineligible. This report comes a day after the government said that over half of its equipment was acquired from Huawei and ZTE. We have reached out to the DoT for comment.

The DoT committee, reportedly headed by Member (Technology) K. Ramchand, is said to have recommended that 20% of equipment for radio access networks (RANs) should be permitted to be supplied by the government-owned ITI Limited. The committee also notes that a “telecom stack” be put together with national security and local manufacturing in focus, according to the report. The committee is was reportedly comprised of the directors of IIT Kanpur and IIT Madras, officials from BSNL and MTNL, the Joint Secretary of the National Security Council, and T.K. Paul, Director General Telecom at DoT. Other recommendations by the committee reportedly include:

  • Proof of concept: Indian companies will reportedly have to be subject to a 4-month long proof of concept (PoC) exercise, if they don’t have prior experience.
  • Source code audits: For source code audits, the DoT panel reportedly recommended that the code should be submitted in an escrow account and be “compiled with non-proprietary compilers”. The source code deposited should be the same being used in the field.
  • 2G investment pause: Except for BSNL, the committee was said to be of the view that 2G investments should be halted. “The Committee feels that BSNL should not further invest in 2G technology,” the committee reportedly said.