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The government has launched a beta version of an online portal that will carry the names of “trusted" suppliers of telecom gear, said an official directly aware of the development.

The beta version is initially open to a few telecom service providers (TSPs) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) identified by India’s highest cyber security authority, who will help the government collect sample data on gear that can be qualified as trusted products, the official said.

“We had a target of 15 April to launch the beta version of the portal. We have successfully launched it. It is not open to all stakeholders at present. With this, we will hopefully be able to launch the portal on the scheduled date of 15 June," said the official mentioned above, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

India’s national cyber security coordinator (NCSC) Lt. Gen. (retired) Rajesh Pant is working on the criteria of trusted suppliers of telecom equipment since December.

Mint on 22 March reported that the department of telecommunications (DoT) will issue the final list of approved manufacturers on a portal that will be launched in June.

The portal will also act as a gateway where all suppliers who aim to be empanelled can track the progress of approval of their applications.

In December, the government said it was working on a list of approved telecom gear vendors, given growing concerns around cyber threats and cross-border surveillance. India banned more than 200 Chinese apps and amended rules for procurement of telecom gear, following last year’s conflict at the Ladakh border.

China’s Huawei and ZTE are among a handful of global telecom equipment suppliers, which include Nokia Corp, Ericsson and Samsung.

In addition to the telecom equipment vendors, chip or semiconductor manufacturers such as Intel and Qualcomm Technologies will also be scrutinized for inclusion in the list of trusted sources.

Barring Chinese vendors can have cost implications for telcos, especially as India prepares for the roll-out of 5G wireless service later this year or early 2022. The official said that the changes to the procurement policy and tighter rules are being deliberately implemented ahead of 5G.

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