The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has amended the telecom licences to make it mandatory for telecom operators to use equipment only from trusted sources from June 15, 2021.

The authority in this case will be the National Cyber Security Coordinator (NCSC). NCSC will notify the categories of equipment for which the security requirements related to trusted sources are applicable. The authority will also notify a list of vendors from whom telcos can procure equipment and those that have not made the cut.

As per the amended rules, the telcos will have to provide any information as and when sought by the NCSC.

Earlier on December 16, 2020, the government had said that it will soon declare a list of ‘trusted sources’ for acquiring gear for telecom networks and amend permits accordingly.

Further, the government has maintained that the latest changes will not affect ongoing annual maintenance contracts (AMC) or updates to existing equipment already inducted in the network as on date of effect.

Commenting on the development, Tony Verghese, partner, J Sagar Associates, said, “The amendment of the telecom licenses by DoT regarding procurement of telecom equipment was an expected move in light of the 5G auctions. The curbs imposed by Press Note 3 on FDI, is prompting policy changes in various sectors. The recent incidents allegedly by Chinese hackers, has definitely hastened the process with the Government inclined towards a new national strategy to strengthen the country’s security. Telecom equipment’s play a vital role in telecom connectivity and data transfer, which has a direct impact on the national security of India. Therefore, such a policy decision, which definitely impacts significant market players, clearly conveys the Governments stand on national security.”