The government Friday said there is no proposal to ban telecom gear and equipment made by Chinese company Huawei. “At present, there is no proposal before the government considering banning telecom gear and equipment made by Huawei,” telecom minister Manoj Sinha said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha. His statement comes after telecom export body TEPC last month requested National Security Advisor Ajit Doval to ban the purchase of equipment from Chinese companies like Huawei, ZTE and Fiberhome for government networks, claiming that they can pose a serious national security threat.
TEPC has been set up by the government to promote telecom export from India. Sinha told the House that telecom operators are free to procure equipment from any vendor based on their techno-commercial interests provided they adhere to the security provisions given in the licence.
The US, Japan, Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia and New Zealand have already taken steps to block the purchase of equipment from Huawei and ZTE.
Sinha acknowledged that modern age telecom equipment, irrespective of its source, may at times be susceptible to spyware or malware etc. “These, spyware/malware etc are potential threats, if embedded in any of the telecom network elements by the vendor or any other third party source, which may damage the concerned network element causing disruption in services, infecting other network elements or leakage of information to the unintended user,” the minister said.
He, however, added, that to address security concerns, including of the security threats posed by telecom equipment inducted into networks, irrespective of its source, elaborate security conditions have been laid down in the licence.
Under telecom licence conditions, telcos are required to create facilities for monitoring of all intrusions, attacks and frauds on their technical facilities and provide reports on the same to the licensor, Sinha said. These facilities are required to be created by the service providers within 12 months of effective date of getting authorisation.
The telecom department has in September 2018 mandated Minimum Requirements for Security Policy (MRSP) for the licensed telcos.
In November, the government established Security Assurance Standards Facility (SASF) in Bengaluru to develop Indian telecom security assurance requirements for telecom equipment, irrespective of the source, to ensure security in digital communication at the national level.
“This facility will work for security from the national perspective and also facilitate the development of testing and certification ecosystem in the country through participation in the activities of recognition of security test labs and security certification of telecom equipment based on test results reported by these labs,” Sinha said.