Indian telecom companies push for universal application of trusted sources norms

 Electrical Device, Utility Pole, Antenna

India’s telecommunications sector finds itself at a crossroads as the government endeavours to address security concerns by enforcing mandatory testing of telecom equipment (MTCTE) norms. These guidelines mandate certification of all telecom equipment before it is sold and used for network rollouts. However, telecom companies are advocating for the universal application of trusted sources norms for all network-connected devices. SP Kochhar, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), expressed concern over purchasing telecom equipment like Wi-Fi routers, and switches from e-commerce websites such as Amazon. He pointed out that all parts of the network must be tested and cleared for security issues.

Trusted source norms were notified in December 2020, when the National Security Directive on Telecom Sector, required telecom companies and licensed importers of telecom products to purchase equipment only from designated countries to avoid threats to India’s national security. The directive aims to stop Chinese equipment imports due to national security concerns. Following the directive, the Department of Telecommunications banned non-trusted telecom gear for network expansion.

Telecom companies are also requesting the government to postpone the implementation of MTCTE norms, which initially had a set deadline of 1 July.