India has lifted its ban on Chinese telecom gear – but has ordered that all equipment pass extensive security checks before certification.
The breakthrough came after two days of prime ministerial talks, which also involved India’s home and telecom ministries and the country’s Intelligence Bureau and National Informatics Center (NIC), said the Economic Times.
The agreement ends a diplomatic and trade row between India and China, sparked in April when the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) told operators that it would not give security approval for the purchase of Huawei or ZTE networking gear.
Under the plan, for the next 12 months Chinese-made infrastructure will need to be certified by international security audit firms, such as Canada’s Electronic Warfare Associates, US-based Infoguard and Israel’s ALTAL Security Consulting.
Mobile operators will also have to provide bank guarantees as part of a self-certification process of imported telco infrastructure.
Mobile firms will lose their deposits and could face criminal proceedings if a security threat is found in the self-certified equipment, Economic Times reported.
After 12 months, India’s NIC will take over certification at a new test lab.
For now, before any new network orders can be placed, the home ministry requires a DoT security clearance for vendors’ core network equipment, including mobile switching centers and servers, routers, PSDNs and media gateways.
The home ministry will “run a thorough check on network equipment to preempt any subversive activity through the installation of malwares, trapdoors, black boxes etc,” a DoT official told ET.