PMO asks DoT to re-examine norms for import of telecom gear

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has been requested to examine, in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), whether there is merit in any of the concerns expressed by the vendors, sources in-the-know said.

They also said the DoT has been requested to consider putting some alternative mechanism in place to resolve these issues in light of international best practices. This process of consulting the MHA and re-examining the guidelines is to be concluded within a period of two months, the sources said.

Sources said the PMO's communication to the DoT has suggested that the earlier security vetting regime and the new agreement-based regime may be operated concurrently in the meantime, with telecom service providers free to adopt either option.

The DoT issued detailed guidelines for procurement of equipment and had made it mandatory for the vendors to share the "source code" and design of their equipment, along with imposition of unlimited liability on vendors in case of any security breach.

This was opposed by some European vendors like Ericsson, who had objected to sharing their source code (password) and designs, saying these are proprietary technologies of the company and cannot be shared.

As per the guidelines issued last month, in the event any security breach is detected after deployment/installation of equipment as a result of a security audit, the relevant equipment supplied by the vendor shall be taken out of service and a penalty of Rs 50 crore for each purchase order shall be imposed on the operator.

Furthermore, a penalty of 100 per cent of the contract value shall be levied on the vendor. The DoT may also, at its discretion, blacklist the vendor from making any supply deals with Indian operators, the guidelines said.

The guidelines came amid security concerns relating to the import of telecom equipment, particularly from China.

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