The official added that the Department of Telecommunications is preparing to launch an online portal in June with the final list of approved manufacturers.
For telcos, the portal will also act as a gateway for procuring telecom equipment where they will be mandated to submit the details of the vendor and its products. They can also track the approval process for the same.
“Currently, most service providers buy equipment on an L1 (lowest-bidder) basis. We do not have any form of embargo or condition to procure such gear. We are worried about the procurement of active programmable components such as chips for which we are tightening the rules,” the official was quoted as saying by the publication.
Along with Chinese equipment makers, Nokia, Samsung, and Ericsson as well as semiconductor manufacturers such as Intel and Qualcomm will also face scrutiny for inclusion in the “trusted” list, he added.
Since the outbreak of the Sino-Indo border tensions earlier in 2020, 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.
The DoT recently brought in clauses of ‘trusted sources’ and ‘trusted products’ for internet service providers (ISPs) by amending their licenses.
India plans to roll out 5G by late 2021 or early 2022. The official further said tighter rules, as well as the procurement policy, are being implemented deliberately ahead of 5G launch.
“Any wireless network has these components — mobile phones/devices, which is the endpoint, RAN (radio access network), transport where optical fibre cable is used, and core, which is where details of subscribers, location register, etc., are stored, making it the most crucial part,” the official was quoted as saying.He noted that 5G will enable high-speed communication and as a result, some components may be skipped, making the critical network core exposed to cyber threats and attacks.
He added that the company and product details will be verified by the communications, home, and commerce, along with relevant ministries, basis definition, and criteria of “trusted’ sources.
The Centre for Development of Telematics (C-Dot), the research and development (R&D) wing of DoT, is building the portal.
The NCSC will recommend the names of trusted sources to the National Security Committee on Telecom, which is the final approving authority.