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Centre plans tough rules to restrict use of Chinese Telecom Equipment

As part of the Mandatory Testing and Certification of Telecom Equipment (MTCTE) regime, the government has been finalizing stricter rules under the Telecommunications Security Assurance Requirements.

Jul 28, 2020 12:38 IST
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The central government has been considering the use of Mandatory Testing and Certification of Telecom Equipment (MTCTE) regime in order to discourage the private telecom players in India from buying the Chinese Telecom gear for future operations.

As part of the regime, the government has been finalizing stricter rules under the Telecommunications Security Assurance Requirements. Under these rules, telecom gear makers will have to share their source codes and to get their equipment tested by the third party labs accredited to the government.

MTCTE will be applicable to all the telecom equipment makers- European, Chinese, or Korean. However, Korean and European manufacturers do not face security concerns globally hence they are unlikely to be stalled by MTCTE Process.

How MTCTE will restrict the use of Chinese Telecom Equipment?

With the stricter rules under Telecommunications Security Assurance Requirements, telecom gear makers will have to share the required details along with getting their equipment tested. As a result, the whole process will take 12-16 weeks before the vendors are given the go-ahead to import the telecom equipment.

The process of mandatory testing will be taking a lot of time and no operator will wait for such a long time, as the installation will get delayed and there will also be uncertainty.

What is the objective of taking such a step?

The step of considering the use of MTCTE by the government seems to be a part of the global push, spearheaded by the United States, to ban the use of Chinese Telecom Gear after the allegations that their equipment has been used for spying.

Many countries including the United Kingdom and Japan, have decided not to buy the 5G equipment from Chinese vendors such as the technology giant Huawei.

The Indian government has also been looking at if the leasing of the spectrum can be made conditional on the country of origin restrictions. Former Advisor, at the Department of Telecommunications, RK Bhatnagar mentioned that the mandatory and security testing has already been notified through Indian telegraph Amendment Rules and that the existing unified licensing condition on security can always be used for bringing private players in line and restrict Chinese.

Opposition on the restriction:

The Indian Telecom operators have publicly as well as through Cellular Operators Association of India have mentioned that there should not be any restriction on them on buying the Chinese gear.

The operators have asserted that the Chinese 5G technology is far ahead of its rivals as well as is highly competitive. Some also pointed out to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) rules, which do not allow for such discrimination.

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