New Delhi: The department of telecommunications (DoT) has once again pushed back the deadline to begin domestic testing and certification of telecom equipment amid industry concerns on the lack of adequate testing infrastructure in the country.
The new date has not been notified yet.
Aiming to beef up security and preparedness against cyberattacks and spying, DoT, which has been toying with the proposal for four years, said it wanted telecom equipment imported or sold in India to undergo mandatory testing and get certified by local authorized agencies from 1 October 2018.
However, on 27 September, this deadline was extended by three-to-six months for testing some 50 types of equipment. The government also said modems, audio-conferencing equipment, fax machines, Wi-Fi access points, and radio and transmission products, including microwaves, imported or sold in India after 1 January will be subject to testing locally. Parts such as mobile devices, soft switch, base transceiver station and Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices would need to be tested and certified from 1 April. Now, the 1 January deadline has been deferred again. “A proposal to extend the said date is under consideration of the government. Fresh date shall be notified separately," DoT said in a 31 December letter, reviewed by Mint.
The industry sees such extensions as temporary fixes as the infrastructure—in terms of the number of labs and personnel —is far from adequate in the second largest telecom market in the world.
“The TEC (Telecommunication Engineering Centre) itself is not prepared to carry out testing. CDOT (Centre for Development of Telematics) is supposed to develop a portal which will serve as an interface with the industry, that portal is also not ready. There is a lot of equipment but very few labs to carry this out. Manpower is also a big constraint," a senior official at a telecom equipment maker said, requesting anonymity.
While TEC, the authorised public sector unit, has eight labs in the country, it has so far certified only 31 private labs across Delhi, Bengaluru, Gurugram, Chennai, among other cities to carry out testing and certification—15 out of them in the last six months itself.
“Equipment vendors want the government to accept foreign testing certifications for more time till an adequate number of labs are set up in the country," the official cited above said.
The government is hopeful that the supply of labs will improve once the industry realises that the government is serious about domestic testing. In fact, in the last three months, the TEC has certified five labs.
To address industry concerns, DoT has now invited Indian and foreign original equipment makers, importers and dealers, test-lab representatives and industry associations for a consultation meeting on 16 January.