DoT to come up with new telecom norms by February 2011

Posted: September 30, 2011 in News, The NamoLeague Times
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Department of Telecom has continuously remained a matter of discussion since the inception of 2G scam. Though the talks regarding 2G scam have submerged a bit, again DoT has became an issue of discussion. It has decided to extend the existing dual process being followed for security clearance of telecom equipment while promising closure on the contentious telecom equipment security issue by February. Though DoT is not yet firm about the new norms, it will announce its position within the next two weeks. “We will then have a consultation with security agencies after which the new template will replace the existing dispensation,” said DoT secretary R Chandrashekhar.

There are certain portions that violate the security agendas that companies find difficult to comply with and that do not match the global norms. These agendas will be revisited by DoT. The entire issue will be discussed internally with DoT and security agencies and externally with key associations. Hence the final verdict will be brought out by the end of February.

Considering the views will be a difficult task as there are mixed reviews. There are some who wish to work on an improved version of the template whereas the others believe that a fresh start should be made to address specific concerns of the Indian Government.

Another major concern is that many of the affected parties are international firms. These firms are required to follow a standard protocol not just in India but in over 100 countries around the world. It’s said they fear that what India does will become a precedent for other countries.

The Government had inducted new procedures for purchase of telecom equipment in January 2010. While the aim was to secure networks and enhance national security, the manner in which it was implemented left most equipment/software providers and service providers in despair. This saw a wide opposition from all the sides. Many felt that the rules were burdensome, outdated and did not match the international standards. Some companies alleged that discrimination was carried out between Chinese firms and other vendors.

By the middle of the year, the Government considered the views of the largest service providers and equipment manufacturers and incorporated them. This proved to be a wrong step and the industry got severely divided into two group with GSM and dual technology operators on one hand and Chinese, European and American equipment providers on the other. A further divide emerged between core telecom equipment providers like Nokia-Siemens and Ericsson, on one hand, and American Cisco, IBM, Intel and Microsoft, on the other. All this happened because of the use of two methods -self certification or the use of signing of a security template for the purpose of telecom equipment purchase.

The telecom companies were all ready to launch their 3G services by the end of this year. Airtel, Tata and Reliance Communications have already started offering 3G services. DoT has asked these companies to put their video calling services on hold until interception facilities are cleared by law enforcement agencies. Security agencies pointed out that outgoing and incoming video calls after eight minutes could not be intercepted and displayed. “A conference call is not distinctly labeled. On the other hand, it is displayed as two different outgoing calls,” the DoT note said, adding that the service providers should be directed to make provisions for proper tagging.

The private players are agitated by the Government’s order to stop their 3G services. If state-owned telcos BSNL and MTNL could offer video calls over the 3G platform for more than a year now, why is the Government stopping private telcos from doing so, the Association of Unified Service Providers of India (Auspi) has asked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). According to Auspi, BSNL and MTNL do not have better LIM (lawful interception monitoring) capability than its members (Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices). The lawful interception monitoring system put up by the operators is as per global standards and the “current standards do not have a provision for real/near time video call content to be available,” Auspi has told the Government. It has requested DOT to allow its member operators to commission the 3G video calls with the currently available capability of providing the content immediately at the end of the call.

Moreover, DoT has become stricter in terms of environment as well. It will impose a fine of Rs 5 lakh on infrastructure firms if their base transceiver stations (BTS) have not received environmental clearance by November 15. There are 560,000 BTS operational in the country, of which 416,000 systems have so far been self-certified. DoT had extended the deadline for self-certificates to the Telecom Engineering and Resource Monitoring (TERM) Cells of DoT to November 15 from May 15. DoT has taken this step considering the effects of radiation on human body. It has been found that radiation levels in Delhi are much below the international safety standards which is a measure of concern.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=DoT to come up with new telecom norms by February 2011_376

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