In view of national security concerns, the Directorate of Telecommunications (DoT) has made it mandatory for equipment suppliers to share design, development and supply chain details, besides allowing inspection of their manufacturing facility by the Indian government or concerned certification agencies.
According to the amendments to the telecom licence agreement — the unified access service license (UASL) — the equipment providers have to give access to their hardware and software for examination at the time of procurement of equipment. The process would be repeated every year and an inspection would be carried out every two years.
The software code would be kept in the escrow account in an encrypted form and would be used in case of security emergency.
A penalty of 100 per cent of the contract value would be levied by telecom equipment supplier in case malware/spyware is found in the equipment. Operators would also have to pay a fine of Rs 50 crore for every purchase of equipment in case there is a security breach.
The licensee will also work towards a phased plan to take over the maintenance of the equipment locally — entirely by Indian engineers and dependence on foreign engineers will be minimum or almost nil within a period of two years.
DoT in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs had been working on the amendment to the licence to address security concerns. It had accepted feedback from the industry and all stakeholders.
DoT had in December, last year made it mandatory for telecom service providers to seek security clearance before placing an order for telecom equipment. Despite this, many orders for Chinese equipment manufacturers Huawei and ZTE have been pending with the department since the last six months.
According to the amendments, telecom service providers will also have to form an organisational policy on security and management of their network. The policy will have to be submitted to the government within 30 working days from the date of the amendment to the UASL licence conditions.