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India's Telcos Outraged by Plans for Local Gear Tests

Gagandeep Kaur

India's telcos have lashed out at a government proposal that would force their suppliers to have network gear tested locally before it can be deployed in Indian networks.

The Telecom Engineering Center (TEC), a part of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), wants to introduce legislation that would require telecom equipment makers to obtain certificates before starting to sell, import or use any network gear in India.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), an association representing the interests of India's service providers, says that such a move would increase the cost of services for the end user.

Under current rules, telcos take full responsibility for the equipment they deploy in their networks. This means providing an undertaking to the DoT that the equipment they plan to install is in keeping with globally accepted standards. Indian authorities assess the testing reports from reputable international bodies.

For all the latest news from the wireless networking and services sector, check out our dedicated mobile content channel here on Light Reading.

The COAI believes that India should continue with these practices instead of testing equipment locally. In a letter to the TEC, it has expressed concern that new rules will drive up costs and disrupt business.

"The mandatory testing of telecom products proposal should be abolished, as this mandatory local screening will create potential supply chain disruptions, increasing the cost of telecom services and hurting end consumers,” said Rajan Mathews, the COAI director general, in the letter. He also writes that the TEC proposal is not in keeping with the government's "objective to improve the ease of doing business."

India's service providers are a beleaguered lot these days, reeling under huge debts and facing declining revenues and hyper-competitive market conditions. Tests would likely add to their distress.

— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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