Centre announces National Security Directive on Telecom Sector for secure networks

In a bid to tighten security of communications network, the Cabinet Committee on Security on Wednesday announced the National Security Directive on Telecommunication Sector, which will mandate service providers to purchase equipment from trusted sources.

Law and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the directive has been framed from the perspective of national security.

"Considering the need to ensure India's national security, the Cabinet has accorded approval for the National Security Directive on Telecommunication Sector," Prasad said.

Under the provisions of this directive, the government will declare a list of trusted sources and trusted products for installation in the country's telecom network.

"The methodology to designate trusted products will be devised by the designated authority, the National Cyber Security Coordinator. Telecom service providers are required to connect new devices that are designated trusted products," Prasad said.

"The list of the trusted source and product will be decided based on approval of a committee headed by the deputy national security advisor.

"The committee will consist of members from relevant departments, ministries and will also have two members from the industry and independent experts. The committee will be called the national security committee on telecom," Prasad said.

The government will also create a list of designated sources from whom no procurement can be done.

"The present directive does not envisage mandatory replacement of the existing equipment already inducted in the network of TSPs," the minister said.

He added that the directive will also not affect annual maintenance contracts or updates to existing equipment already inducted in the network as on date of effect of the directive.

The directive has provisions to qualify telecom gears made by domestic players in the trusted category.

"Those that meet the criteria of the Department of Telecommunications' preferential market access (PMA) scheme will be certified as India trusted sources. The National Security Committee on Telecom will take measures to increase use of equipment from such Indian trusted sources," Prasad said.

The PMA scheme gives weightage to telecom gears developed and manufactured by indigenous companies.

The DoT will suitably notify guidelines and ensure monitoring of compliance by telecom service providers of the directive.

"The Department of Telecom will make appropriate modifications in the licence conditions for the implementations of the provisions of the directive. The policy will come in to operation after 180 days from the date of approval," Prasad said.

Meanwhile, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the next spectrum auction of a total of 2251.25 MHz.

Addressing the media, post the Cabinet meeting, Union Minister for Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the auction will be held for spectrum in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz frequency bands, for validity period of 20 years.

A total of 2251.25 MHz will be offered with total valuation of over Rs 3.92 lakh crore.

In the auction, bidders will have to comply with parameters such as block size in which bidders will be able to submit their bids, spectrum cap -- the maximum amount of spectrum that can be held by each bidder after the completion of the auction, rollout obligations, payment terms among others.

Successful bidders may pay entire bid amount in one go or may exercise an option to pay a certain amount (25 per cent for spectrum won in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz bands or 50 per cent for spectrum won in 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz bands) upfront and remaining amount in a maximum up to 16 equated annual instalments, after a moratorium of two years, said an official statement.

In addition to the bid amount, successful bidders will also have to pay 3 per cent of the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) excluding wireline services as spectrum usage charges for the spectrum won through this auction.

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Free Press Journal