The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has brought in the clause of “trusted sources” and “trusted products” while amending the licenses of internet service providers (ISPs) for providing telecom gear.

According to the new directive, from June 15, companies like state-run GAIL, RailTel, Power Grid, Oil India which have ISP licenses can only install equipment from the trusted products list.

“The government through the designated authority will have the right to impose conditions for procurement of telecommunication equipment on grounds of Defense of India, or matters directly or indirectly related thereto, for national security. Designated authority for this purpose shall be National Cybersecurity Coordinator. In this regard, the licensee shall provide any information as and when sought by the Designated Authority,” said DoT on Tuesday.

” With effect from 15 June 2021. the licensee shall only connect Trusted Products in its network, and also seek permission from designated authority for upgradation of existing network utilizing the Telecommunication Equipment, not designated as Trusted Products,” it added.

However, these directions will not affect ongoing annual maintenance contracts or updates to existing equipment already inducted in the network, as on date of effect.

The department had earlier similarly amended telecom licenses.

Since the outbreak of the latest Sino-Indian border tensions earlier this year,the government has taken a series of steps to make it tougher for Chinese companies to operate in India. It has stipulated that companies belonging to countries sharing a border with India can no longer invest under the automatic route and need their investments to be vetted by the Indian authorities. In addition, around 220 Chinese apps, including popular ones such as TikTok, have been banned for national security reasons.

New Delhi has also been unofficially nudging private and state-run telcos to start avoiding Chinese equipment, but Wednesday’s is the first official step in the direction of barring their involvement in Indian networks,especially the5G rollout.

This, even as the geopolitical tensions have reached a point of stalemate with both sides amassing thousands of troops and digging in at the borders even in harsh winter conditions. Telcos had been pushing the government to take a clear stance on Chinese vendors, which would enable them to take future investment decisions.




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