“Under the process, vendors will have to provide information to telcos, who will inform the designated authority (NCSC) about the gear and procurement. Then, the authority will inform telcos if they can procure the gear, depending on whether the vendor is marked as trusted,” a multinational vendor executive who attended the meeting told ET.
NCSC, India’s highest cyber security office, shared with the stakeholders the list of products and the template of the data they will require. But the authority did not share the criteria basis which it will determine whether a source or a product is trusted, and assured the companies that all information provided will be kept in strict confidence.
“They discussed how the authority will use the information to determine the trustworthiness of a vendor, as per the process. And, what sort of challenges and delays could surface once this comes into force,” an executive at a multinational company said, asking not to be named.
Another executive said that a lot of issues may crop up once the portal on which the information will need to be provided goes live. “…there will be many things which can’t be visualised today…we will get to know about the real action and its impact once it comes into effect,” said the executive.
Some vendors also raised concerns about the magnitude of information being sought and said that they can’t provide so much information due to the strict time limits.
While the procurement rules will come into force from June 16, the NCSC will launch the beta portal on April 15 and will notify the categories of gear for which the security code related to trusted sources is applicable.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) recently amended telco permits, mandating them to use network equipment only from “trusted sources” from June 15, a move widely believed to be aimed at keeping Chinese players out of key elements of a telecom network, owing to national security reasons.
The details were discussed at a virtual meeting called by the NCSC and attended by telcos, chipmakers, domestic and multinational vendors. Huawei and ZTE were not called for the meeting. Companies represented at the meeting included Ericsson, Nokia, Cisco, Samsung, Qualcomm, Ciena, Intel, AMD, Tejas, Nivetti systems, C-DoT and VNL, besides the telecom operators.
The NCSC gave a presentation to all stakeholders and shared the flow of the procurement rules and the flow.
“They (NCSC) have asked for a lot of details and sought feedback from all attendees in case they have any issue then they can raise it and the authority can make changes before the portal goes live,” another executive said.
Telcos have been pushing the government to clear its stance on whether Chinese vendors will be allowed to participate in India’s 5G trials and rollouts, saying they would beed to take informed decisions before investing top dollars.