India asks telecoms to use trusted products in mobile networks

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has mandated telecom operators to use trusted products in their networks from June 15 this year.
Huawei and ZTE
DoT in a communication to telecom operators said it has amended the Unified Access Services Licence Agreement and added a clause under security conditions. Leading telecom operators are Bharti Airtel, BSNL, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio.

“With effect from June 15, 2021, the licensee (telecom operators) shall only connect Trusted Products in its network and also seek permission from designated authority for upgradation of network utilizing the telecommunication equipment not designated as Trusted Products,” DoT said.

These directions will not affect ongoing annual maintenance contracts (AMC) or updates to existing equipment already inducted in the network as on date of effect, the DoT said. This implies that some of the telecom network makers may not be able to sell 5G and 4G network in future.

Leading telecom equipment suppliers include Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, Huawei, ZTE, Cisco, among others.

As per the amended clause, the government through the designated authority 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.

Designated Authority for this purpose shall be National Cyber Security Coordinator, DoT said. Designated Authority shall notify the categories of equipment for which the security requirement related to trusted sources are applicable. Designated Authority shall notify the trusted sources along with the associated Telecommunication Equipment (Trusted Products).

The designated authority may notify a list of designated sources from whom procurement may not be done. Procurement for inclusion of telecommunication equipment in the list of trusted sources will be issued by the Designated Authority.

Huawei and ZTE have been under scrutiny for allegedly installing backdoor vulnerabilities in a desperate bid to do spying for the Chinese government. Huawei denies that it supports China government.