The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has come out in support of European telecommunication equipment companies that do not want to share their source code with the government. In a letter to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the PMO has said that telecom operators should be allowed to buy equipment under the old regime that did not
Cheap vs secure
Security concerns to have a major impact on the Rs 45,000-cr gear order that telecom operators will buy in few months.
Huawei and ZTE are major Chinese players, while Ericsson, Alcatel Lucent and Nokia Siemens are European players vying for the 3G market.
Security agencies have raised concerns about Chinese firms and want them to be banned.
The DoT banned Chinese companies in March.
Last week, the DoT amended licence conditions favouring Chinese companies.
"It is suggested that both the earlier security vetting regime and the new agreement based regime may be operated concurrently with telecom service providers free to adopt either option," wrote PMO in a letter to the DoT secretary last week.
There are five major equipment suppliers — Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corporation, Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Network (NSN) and Alcatel Lucent. Of these, Huawei and ZTE are Chinese vendors, the rest are European.
Among large operators, the existing 2G networks of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone mainly function on European equipment, while Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices use Chinese equipment.
In March, the DoT had sent a notification to all operators saying that the security clearance wsa not granted for Chinese equipment suppliers Huawei, ZTE, Acelink Technologies and UT Starcom.
However, last week, the government amended the licence conditions and asked vendors to submit their source codes in an escrow account in order to address security issues. This condition is not acceptable to European companies that have expressed their apprehensions.
With the PMO suggestion, it will be easier for operators to buy European equipment.