In a move that could help several cellular operators, the government has agreed to allow import of telecom equipment certified by international security audit firms.
The Department of Telecom is preparing the modalities for the import of sensitive telecom gears to which the Ministry of Home Affairs agreed to.
The move will prove to be a breather for Chinese vendors like Huawei and ZTE, as well as Indian telcos like Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices that are looking for cost-effective telecom gear to expand their networks.
As per the proposal, telecom companies will be allowed to import the equipment from foreign suppliers only after an International Certification Agency visits the plant of the vendor and gives a security clearance.
India currently does not have any Certification Agency so it was planning to rope in eight such international bodies to carry out the task.
The Mobile operators who intend to import telecom equipment have to give a bank guarantee to the Department of Communication. The operators will be liable to forfeit their bank guarantee and may also face criminal proceedings, if any security threats are detected in the equipment at a later stage.
The stopgap solution, which will be in place for the next 12 months, will ensure that Indian telcos do not face project delays.
The government, in the meantime, will initiate the process to set up an indigenous Certification Agency of international standard.