The department of telecommunications (DoT) has decided to free the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) from carrying out any direct verification and certification of telecom operators such as BSNL Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd on issues of roll-out obligations and compliance for telecom equipment.
TEC’s primary role is to specify standards for telecom equipment and services to work across different technologies and protocols.
DoT has started outsourcing verification and equipment testing to around 34 vigilance technical monitoring cells (VTM), which act as the field offices of the department across 24 telecom circles.
“As kind of a pilot, we took some work out of the TEC last month and have outsourced to these VTM cells,” said a senior DoT official, who did not wish to be quoted. “While TEC will continue to be involved with creating and driving standards, more than 60% of testing and verification work currently handled by them could be taken out.”
“TEC wants to limit itself to setting processes and procedures for testing by bringing accredited labs, who will do it for a fee,” said R.N. Padukone, TEC’s senior deputy director general. “In April, TEC started ‘self certification’ of roll-out testing for mobile operators, as we realized that our engineers were merely paying nominal visits with operators already complying with the norms,” he added.
“One of the first projects to be given to VTM as part of this exercise is service testing and certification for base transmission station (BTS) of the service providers,” said S.K. Gupta, deputy director general of the VTM cell in New Delhi, which includes Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon.
In its recommendations submitted to DoT on 29 August, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had asked that testing and verification work currently handled by TEC to be delegated to other technically qualified organizations such as VTM and the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT), an autonomous body focused on developing telecom solutions.
“Technical institutions such as IITs, which have requisite competence may also be entrusted to carry out verification tests on the basis of a fee to be determined by DoT,” Trai said.
“It’s virtually impossible for TEC to carry out equipment testing and other verifications entirely on its own,” said N.K. Goyal, president of Indian Manufacturing Association and chairman-emeritus of Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association of India (Tema). “Testing and verification could be carried out by independent agencies accredited by TEC.”