Saturday, May 28, 2011

Norms For Import Of Telecom Equipments In India

Import of telecom equipments, especially for India, has never been smooth. Security agencies of India have been raising concerns regarding possibility of “backdoors” in hardware and software of foreign vendors.

India has no institution or department that can check malware in hardware and software. India has to depend upon other countries like UK for testing of imported hardware and software.

In this entire exercise, the import of hardware of foreign vendors has been affected to a great extent. On the request of these foreign vendors, Indian government assured that the matter would be expedited very soon.

Meanwhile, Kapil Sibal, Minister of department of communication and information technology and department of telecommunications has shown his support for indigenously manufactured hardware and software.

Now the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has asked the communication and home ministries to ensure that new norms for import of telecom equipment are in place by the month-end. The original deadline was October-end 2010, and the PMO in a May 20 communication to these ministries has asked them to complete the process by May-end, and ensure no further extension becomes necessary'.

At present, India has two separate policy guidelines for import of telecom gear. Chinese vendors such as Huawei and ZTE follow the July 2010 guidelines while Western telecom equipment manufacturers were given the option of following the policy issued in late 2009, after they refused to operate in India under the July rules.

In August 2010, the PMO had asked the ministries to review the strict security standards unveiled during the previous month (July) after they were being labelled "too tough" by foreign telecom gearmakers. Western vendors and business lobbies in the US, Europe and Japan have been pressuring India to overturn the July 2010 rules.

The PMO had given both ministries two months to come up with a revised code of standards more aligned to procedures being followed globally, but these are yet to be notified. In the interim period, imports of telecom gear from China resumed after its companies agreed to adhere to the stringent rules.

There are many crucial areas that have to be covered by the present norms. Let us see how successful the Indian government would be in meeting these requirements.

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