Telecommunication Current Affairs - 2019
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Foreign telecom equipment vendors have refused to share their design details with the India’s telecom equipment testing lab- Telecom Testing and Security Certification Centre (TTSCC) for it may conflict with their business interests.
TTSCC was decided to be set up at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore by the Department of Telecom (DoT) keeping in view the security issues. Due to this refusal, the setting up of TTSCC which would have become fully operational by April 2013 is now delayed. The DoT was asked to start the first round of security audit beginning mid-2012, but now all this will be further delayed.
What does this Foreign Telecom vendors’ refusal to share design details mean to India?
This is a major debacle for the government’s initiative towards creating a ‘safe to connect’ telecom network in the country. In 2001, the Centre had asked the DoT to ensure that all telecom service providers (TSPs) should induct only ‘safe to connect’ telecom equipment in their network, besides ensuring annual security audit of all TSPs to create a telecom infrastructure sans bugs and ‘leakages’.
Rising concerns about foreign telecom equipment
The US and other western countries are more cautious while deploying foreign made telecom networks especially those being imported from Chinese equipment makers, Huawei and ZTE. The US also found security loopholes in products supplied by Huawei through testing procedures and has thus banned supplies from Huawei.
Who conducts the telecom equipment testing at present in India?
The testing of equipment in India is dependent on unreliable methods of self-certification by operators. The National Security Council had highlighted the fear of attacks on telecom networks and stealing of sensitive information and data.
As per Telecom Ministry, the government is thinking taking away penalizing powers, which are used to punish service providers for not complying with rules and regulations, from the Department of Telecom (DoT), and giving these to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
Why the government intends to transfer the penalizing powers to TRAI?
As per the government, the Department of Telecom (DoT) is imposing excessive penalties on the telecom operators who fail to adhere to rules. As per industry estimates, telecom service providers are facing penalty to the tune of Rs. 6,500 crore. Of this, Rs. 1,900 crore has been imposed with regards to EMF (radiation) issues. The government intends to bring in proportionality so that penalty levied in some way is related to seriousness of the violation of the licence condition. Therefore, it is mulling to transfer penalizing powers from DoT to TRAI. Currently, while TRAI has the power to regulate and monitor rates, quality and other parameters of telecom and broadcasting services to protect consumer interest, it does not have the power to impose penalties on service providers for failing to adhere to rules.