India has notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) its intention to make it mandatory for telecom products sold, imported or used in the country, including feedback device, transmission terminal equipment and broadband equipment, to be tested and certified by the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) under the Department of Telecommunications.

“While the mandatory tests and certification of imported telecom equipment are primarily targeted at Chinese companies because of security concerns, they will apply to all imports. That’s why as per WTO rules India has to inform members prior to its implementation and seek comments,” an official told BusinessLine .

In three separate submissions made to the WTO Committee on Technical Barrier to Trade on the three identified items this week, India sought comments from WTO members on the mandatory certification regime within 30 days.

Phased manner

“The Mandatory Testing and Certification of Telecommunications Equipment (MTCTE) Scheme is being launched in a phased manner, and telecom products are gradually being brought under the regime,” the notifications stated.

The certifications for feedback device, transmission terminal equipment and broadband equipment under phase 2 of the MTCTE Scheme shall become compulsory from October 1 2020, it added.

The testing will be carried out by recognised labs and agencies in India.

Chinese imports

The Indian telecom equipment market is estimated to be around ₹12,000 crore. Chinese imports account for about ₹3,000 crore, as per industry figures. Once the notification is implemented, all telecom equipment suppliers such as Ericsson, Huawei, Alcatel, Lucent, ZTE and Nokia Siemens will have to get their equipment tested and approved by TEC before they sell them to operators.

The mandatory certification is being planned to... “ensure safety of users and security of telecom network and protection of human health or safety”, the WTO notification said.

“DoT has been concerned for some time over security threat posed by Chinese telecom equipment in India.

“Therefore, it issued a note earlier this year stating that it was envisaged that every telecom product entering into the Indian telecom network had to be mandatorily certified by TEC before it operated in Indian telecom network.

“Hopefully, it will now be done in two months’ time,” the official said.

The TEC formulates standards and various requirements and specifications for telecom products, services and networks.