New Delhi: Amid security concerns relating to telecom equipment, particularly from China, the government on Wednesday made it mandatory for suppliers to share the password and design details and said heavy penalty would be imposed on telecom operators if any security breach was detected.
Amending the telecom licences, it said, “The licensor shall have the power to allow inspection, analysis and use by the competent experts designated by the government, the hardware and software designs/codes deposited in the Escrow accounts to prevent/detect any security hazards, malware, traps at any time or for any criminal investigation purpose.”
In the event any security breach was detected after deployment/installation of equipment as a result of security audit, the relevant equipment supplied by the vendor shall be taken out of service and a penalty of Rs50 crore for each purchase order shall be imposed on the operator.
In addition, a penalty of 100% of contract value shall be levied by the government on the operator. This, some vendors said, would be passed on to them as per the agreement between suppliers and operators.
The licensor (DoT) may also at its discretion blacklist the vendor from making any supply deals with Indian operators, according to the amendment.
It has also asked the operators to work towards a phased plan to take over the maintenance of the equipment locally, meaning therby, the operation and maintenance of the networks shall be entirely by Indian engineers and dependence on foreign engineers shall be minimal or almost nil within a period of two years from now.
The telecom operators and the equipment suppliers did not offer any comment immediately saying they would study its impact before reacting.
Some vendors, however, said that it would at least put business back on track as no purchase order was placed by any operator for last more than six months.