Testing of telecom gears no solution to threat concerns: DoT to PMO

PTI New Delhi | Updated on May 02, 2013

Amid contentions over security concerns involving telecom equipment, DoT has informed the PMO that mere tests of gears is no panacea for various threats from “malicious codes and programmes“.

The PMO had sought comments from the Department of Telecom (DoT) on challenges and way forward to the Preferential Market Access (PMA) policy, which was cleared by the Cabinet in February this year to address security threats from equipment installed in telecom networks.

In its reply, the DoT has said that “there is a possibility of malicious codes being implanted during the stage of manufacturing and after manufacturing but before putting into the network or even after putting the network elements in to the network”, sources told PTI.

“Although security testing of equipment to some extent can deal with the situation but it is no panacea,” the DoT has said in its reply.

The PMA policy, which recommends checking security threats by use of domestically manufactured products, among others, has received sharp criticism from foreign companies and trade associations.

The DoT has told the PMO that modern day telecom networks are dependent on softwares and can be accessed from any remote location in any part of the world which makes them susceptible to vulnerability and cyber attacks.

“Disruption in telecom services can have disability effect not only on the economic sectors of the country but even on strategic sector (like defence) as well. Therefore, security of the telecom network is of paramount importance,” sources said.

The department has said besides security testing of telecom network, it is important to ensure that the environment in which the telecom product is manufactured is under “sovereign control so that the problem is controlled at the root itself“.

Domestically made electronics product “will be subject to meeting technical specifications and matching lower price”, it said.

“Under PMA, there is no distinction between Indian company and foreign company. All companies manufacturing in India are judged on value addition criterion to qualify as domestic,” DoT said.

For procurement purposes, the policy qualifies only those electronic products that have at least 25 per cent of the component produced in India and this contribution should gradually increase to 45 per cent in the fifth year from the notification of the policy.

On the question of production capability for high tech products in India, DoT said in the first draft list it has considered only those security sensitive products that are being manufactured in the country.

Published on May 02, 2013

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