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Updated: April 24, 2012 00:50 IST

The 'great wall' of telecom

Sandeep Joshi
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FOR SECURITY REASONS: Government is focusing on giving a boost to Indian players engaged in telecom equipment manufacturing. Photo Vino John
The Hindu
FOR SECURITY REASONS: Government is focusing on giving a boost to Indian players engaged in telecom equipment manufacturing. Photo Vino John

The government remains sceptical about data security in the telecom sector due to an overuse of Chinese manufacturing instruments

The influx of foreign-made equipments for deployment in India's growing information and communication technology (ICT) arena, particularly by Chinese firms, has always been on the government's radar. Indian law enforcement agencies (LEAs) have been warning the government about rampant use of these sophisticated equipments, particularly in the strategically important telecom sector, which could compromise with the country's security because these companies do not share technical information and ‘system keys' of their products with Indian operators. Significantly, Indian telecom operators have to rely on these foreign players as there are not many indigenous players supplying such highly technical equipments. Initially, European and American manufacturers were supplying majority of such equipments, but in the last five years Chinese players like Huawei and ZTE have established their dominance in this area.

Clearly understanding the potential threat due to high-dependence on foreign players, the government is now focusing on giving a boost to Indian players engaged in telecom equipment manufacturing so that security issues could be addressed more effectively.

In one such initiative, Hyderabad-based Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) has joined hands with premier Indian institutions like the Indian Institute of Technology to develop indigenous products. The PSU, which falls under the Department of Atomic Energy and works in the field of electronics and communications, has now come up two high-technology products -- “Carrier Ethernet Switch Router” and “Secure Network Access System” (SNAS) – thus showcasing its capabilities in the field of high-speed networking, and communications and network security. “The router, which is like a ‘black box' that carries vital and strategic data, will address the apprehensions on the security issues posed by imported products. Similarly, the SNAS product will be an ideal and fully indigenous solution with functionalities to address all network security requirements of an organisation,” says ECIL Chairman and Managing Director Y.S. Mayya.

“These cutting-edge technology products were cost effective that will help the government save crucial foreign exchange…these solutions will also address security and secrecy issues in strategic areas of defence, process control, nuclear power, space, electronic security and e-Governance. We will also cater to the needs of private players, particularly those engaged in fast-growing telecom and information technology (IT) sectors,” Mr. Mayya added. While the router has been manufactured under license from IIT Bombay, the SNAS, a specialised indigenous network security product, has been developed by Mumbai-based Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and will be made available by the ECIL.

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Australia and the US have recently banned Huawei from participating their broadband roll out
after advice from their respective security agencies. I believe India should follow suit.

from:  Siva Pillai
Posted on: Apr 24, 2012 at 19:54 IST
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