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DoT amends telecom license to notify ‘trusted sources’, likely to exclude Chinese firms

In a move that is likely aimed at excluding Chinese telecom gear vendors like Huawei and ZTE, the Department of Telecommunications has amended the Unified Access Service License to prevent telcos from obtaining gear from untrustworthy vendors. The move had been rumoured for weeks, and follows announcements from Vi and Airtel that they would be collaborating with Huawei for 5G trials and infrastructure. The government will impose these conditions through the National Cyber Security Coordinator, currently Lt Gen Rajesh Pant.

The government through the Designated Authority [the National Cyber Security Coordinator] 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.

[…]

[NCSC] shall notify the categories of equipment for which the security related to Trusted Sources are applicable. For the said categories of equipment, [NCSC] shall notify the Trusted Sources along with the associated Telecommunication Equipment (Trusted Products). — DoT license amendment

From June 15, telcos can only use trusted vendors’ equipment in their networks. If they want to use equipment that is not in the Trusted Sources list, they have to apply for permission. The directive does not apply to maintenance contracts for already installed gear. The amendment says that telcos have to obey the “Guidance for Enhanced Supervision and Effective Control of Telecommunication Networks,” for which guidelines will be issued soon by DoT.

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