In view of intelligence reports on threat to national security from terrorist attacks, the government is likely to restrict deployment of Chinese equipment by private service providers in border states and states facing Naxalite problems.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has called a meeting of Chief Executive Officers of telecom service providers on August 28 with Telecom Secretary, Siddharth Behura.
“Among other issues related to security, the meeting will also consider threat posed by the use of Chinese equipment by service providers, especially in border areas,” a senior DoT official told Hindustan Times.
On the agenda is a Home Ministry report, which says Chinese equipment should not be used in border areas, following which Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd was not allowed to place orders for Chinese equipment, the official said. DoT is considering whether this restriction should be extended to the private operators.
The step has been prompted by warnings from the intelligence agencies that Chinese telecom products could have embedded elements or windows which would enable the telecom company to launch a cyber attack into the equipment, either shutting it down or completely corrupting it, if it so desired.
Private telecom service providers source GSM equipment from, among others, two Chinese vendors — Huawei and ZTE. Huawei has invested $200 million (Rs 980 crore) in setting up an R&D centre in Bangalore.
“Our equipment and solutions strictly comply with global security standards,” a Huawei spokesperson said.
D.K. Ghosh, CMD of ZTE said: “We are Indians first and employees of a Chinese company later. Our primary intent is security of the country.”