Telecom vendors, including Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei and ZTE have written to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) asking it to defer or abolish the implementation of mandatory safety checks on imported gear.
On June 23 the DoT had issued a circular, making safety checks of imported gear mandatory by local labs in India from October 1. Telecom vendors say that the move will create duplication of certification activity which will lead to unnecessary delays.
The DoT's circular came at the back of increasing concerns by the Indian government around security threats from China. In this case, however, telecom vendors say the move will impact all telecom equipment vendors not just Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE.
“Under the Common Criteria Recognition Arrangement (CCRA) the gear that is imported to India is certified by two labs before deployment. While we have nothing against testing by local labs it will lead to delays,” said a top official from one of the telecom vendors.
Another source added that the move could possibly delay a lot of rollouts that are underway. “We are at a critical juncture in the Indian telecom ecosystem; 4G network upgrades have to be rolled out which will get delayed by anywhere between 6-9 months. Add to that, the 5G auction is already seeing a delay across the board. The mandatory safety checks will further increase the delay of the introduction of 5G,” he said.
Meanwhile telecom operators that CNBC-TV18 spoke to said that the move will not have as much of an impact on the 4G and 5G rollout if it is implemented in a timely manner.
A senior executive from Vodafone Idea said: “We need some more clarity on the mandatory testing norms. On the face of it, it looks like a positive by having another level of screening.
“The government just needs to put a mechanism in place to keep the findings of the global lab certifications in consideration while doing the local testing. But the key here is to ensure there are no major delays it has to be done in a timely manner.”