India Government may set up its own secure telecom network

By Telecom Lead Team: DoT is mulling to set-up a
pan-India secure network with an estimated cost of Rs 450 crore, providing a
fool-proof infrastructure for telecom and internet communication exclusively
for government use.

This will be a major setback to both telecom operators
and telecom equipment vendors operating in India. If the telecom department
goes ahead with the move, it will mean that the government does not trust the
network offered by service providers and telecom equipment vendors who are
offering infrastructure.

“To develop and deploy a pan-India secure network and network-based
services such as e-mail, voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP), mobile
communication through a survivable and available network architecture for
secured communication for government use with a government funding of Rs 450
crore,” PTI reported quoting the latest DoT report.

In the recent past, telecom gear makers such as Huawei and ZTE were under the
government watch due to security reasons. They faced similar issues in other
countries as well.

There were media reports suggesting that Chinese agencies
are trying to access Indian government websites and data.

According to a PTI report, many e-mails and VoIP users in
India rely on services of foreign origin such as yahoo mail, Gmail and Skype.
These services use proprietary encryptions, which are considered to be secure.

The service may be secure from hackers anti-social elements, rivals but still
the communication made through these services can be accessed by the Government
of other countries, where the servers for providing these services are hosted,
by invoking the provisions of their laws, the report, prepared by the working
group on Telecom for the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17), said.

For high security of classified government communication, secured communication
network is proposed to be established for fixed and wireless communication at
an estimated capital cost of Rs 300 crore. Further, Rs 100 crore for five years
are proposed to be earmarked for operational expenditure and Rs 50 crore for
Research and Development.

“For the security of communication flowing within the country, it is
desired that traffic should not flow outside the country and should be routed
through National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), a government-supported
not-for- profit organisation that facilitates exchange of domestic internet
traffic,” the working group added.

A lot of intra-communication is classified. The security of this communication
has to be ensured by alternative mechanism because neither it is advisable to
wait for such a mandating and capacity building nor it may be appropriate to
rely on the level of security provided by such a scheme as communication would
still remain in open domain of interest, the paper said.

By Danish Khan
[email protected]


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