5G: India keeps Chinese companies out of telecom equipment market
The Indian government on Monday ordered telecom companies to buy devices only from “reliable sources” to expand or upgrade the network, dealing a severe blow to Chinese telecom equipment manufacturers. On Monday, the Communications Department issued a statement tightening the rules for telecom licenses. The measure aims to prevent Chinese suppliers such as Huawei and ZTE from providing Indian carriers’ equipment for impending 5G services.
“From June 15, 2021, the licensee must only connect trusted products in its network and also obtain permission from the designated authority to upgrade or expand the existing network using communications equipment not designated as trusted products,” the DoT notice said.
“However, these directives will not affect ongoing annual maintenance contracts or updates to existing equipment already brought into the network on their effective date,” she added.
“The designated authority may also notify a list of designated sources from which no purchase can be made. A procedure will be issued to include the communications equipment in the list of trusted sources,” the notice added.
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The National Cyber Security Coordinator is the “designated authority,” responsible for notifying trustworthy products as well as categories of equipment to which security standards relating to trusted sources apply.
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The government has made it clear that these guidelines will not have an impact on ongoing annual maintenance agreements or software upgrades for equipment already owned. The Department of Transportation amended communications licensing requirements in 2021 and added “defense” and “national security” as requirements for the acquisition of reliable communications equipment. Designated authorities may then require telecom companies to stop using products deemed dangerous. The word “expansion” was added to the license terms in the most recent DoT notice.
Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE have not yet completed the documents needed to request permission from “reliable sources”. Due to security concerns, a number of countries, notably the US, UK and Sweden, have banned operators from using Huawei-made equipment. Huawei has been accused of spying for the Chinese government by countries like Canada.
(with input from agencies)
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