The department of telecommunications has amended the Unified Access Service Licence to prevent telecom players from acquiring equipment from untrustworthy vendors. The changes will take effect from June 15 and are meant to prevent Chinese telecom equipment makers such as Huawei and ZTE from taking part in the 5G rollout roadmap.
The amendment will help the government control sourcing of products from China and other non-friendly countries. The National Cyber Security Coordinator (NCSC) may also notify a list of designated sources that cannot participate.
Airtel and Vodafone Idea have existing contracts with the Chinese vendors, while Jio works largely with Korean vendor Samsung.
Reports said that Vodafone Idea was in advanced stages of processing an order for network capacity expansion in six circles through Chinese telecom gear makers. Vodafone Idea did not respond to questions from this newspaper about how the changes in the licensing norms will impact its dealings with Chinese equipment makers.
With effect from June 15, telecom operators will only connect trusted products in its network and seek permission from the NCSC for the upgradation of existing networks and for using telecom equipment not designated as trusted products.
According to the licence amendment, the NCSC will be the designated authority that can impose conditions for the procurement of telecom equipment in matters directly related to national security.
“However, these directions will not affect ongoing annual maintenance contracts or updates to existing equipment already inducted in the network as on date of effect," the amendment notification said.
While the government has not barred procurement of equipment from Chinese companies, it amended the general financial rules 2017 to enable the imposition of restrictions on bidders in public procurement from countries that share a land border with India on grounds of the defence of India.