India to issue a list of ‘trusted’ telecom vendors from where Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and others can procure equipment

India to issue a list of ‘trusted’ telecom vendors from where Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and others can procure equipment
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  • The Indian government has announced that it will create a list of ‘trusted’ telecom vendors from whom equipment can be acquired under the new ‘National Security Direction on Telecommunications Sector.’
  • The government may also issue a list of sources that cannot be trusted.
  • Neither list will impact the equipment that telecom service providers (TSPs) like Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Idea and others already have in place.
  • The directive will come into effect after 180 days.

The Union Cabinet has approved the formation of a ‘National Security Direction on Telecommunications Sector’. The government will be creating a list of ‘trusted’ vendors from whom telecommunications companies like Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Idea can procure telecom equipment.

There may even be a second list of designated sources from whom no procurement can be done.

“Under the provisions of this directive, in order to maintain the integrity of supply-chain security, the government will declare a list of ‘trusted’ sources and products for the benefit of telecom service providers (TSPs),” said Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad during the press conference on December 16.

The policy will come into operation after 180 days from issuance.

Who decides which vendors make the cut?
According to Prasad, the National Cyber Security Coordinator (NCSC), Lieutenant General Rajesh Pant, will decide who goes on the list and who stays off of it. But he will make his decision based on the approval of a committee headed by one of India’s Deputy National Security Advisors (DNSA).

The ‘National Security Committee on Telecom’ will consist of members from the relevant government departments, two members from the industry and one independent participant.

A special category of ‘India trusted’ sources
Among the telecom vendors that will gain the coveted ‘trusted’ tag, those which meet the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) criteria of the Preferential Market Access Scheme will be denoted as ‘India trusted’ sources.

The committee will take measures to increase the usage of these products in India.

What changes for companies like Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and others?
“TSPs are required to connect new devices, which are designated ‘trusted’ products,” said Prasad.

However, neither of the lists will require them to replace any existing equipment or halt ongoing annual maintenance contracts or updates, which are already inducted into the network.

A portal will also be set up for easy upload of applications by TSPs and equipment vendors with the goal of assisting the ease of doing business.

DoT will suitably monitor its guidelines and ensure monitoring of compliance by TSPs as well as make appropriate modifications in license conditions for the implementation of the new directive, according to Prasad. “Guidance for the manner in which in house supervision and control can be maintained by TSPs will be issued by the designated authority at regular intervals,” he said.

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