MTCTE will, of course, be applicable to all telecom equipment makers — Chinese, European (such as Ericsson and Nokia) or Korean (Samsung). However, European and Korean manufacturers do not face security concerns globally, and are unlikely to be stalled by the MTCTE process.
Hence, the government’s move seems to be part of the global push, spearheaded by the US, to ban the use of Chinese telecom gear after allegations that their equipment is used for spying. In fact, many countries including Japan and the UK, have decided not to buy 5G equipment from Chinese vendors such as technology giant Huawei.
However, Indian telecom operators have publicly, and through the Cellular Operators Association of India, said that there should not be any restriction on them to buy Chinese gear. They assert that Chinese 5G technology
is far ahead of its rivals and is also highly competitive. Moreover, some have pointed to WTO rules, which do not allow such discrimination.
In the wake of the bloody skirmishes and the continued standoff between the two countries on the Line of Actual Control, the Indian government has been taking various policy measures to ensure that the Chinese find it difficult to participate in the public procurement of equipment.
It has also tightened the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy, so that Chinese investment in India cannot come through the automatic route, but has to be scrutinised by the government.
The government is also looking at whether the leasing of spectrum can be made conditional on country of origin restrictions. Says RK Bhatnagar, former advisor, technology, at the Department of Telecommunications: “Mandatory and security testing has already been notified through the Indian Telegraph Amendment Rules and the existing unified licensing condition on security can always be used to bring private players in line and restrict Chinese.”