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TEC goofs up, 3 MTCTE certificates issued to Huawei for trials

Just when the government was finalising the national security directive for the telecom sector, the Department of Telecommunications got caught in an unusual tangle over Chinese vendors.

In what appears to be a slip, Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC), a DoT wing, granted certificates to Huawei Telecommunications India Pvt Ltd last month, to start the testing process of gears, according to a source in the know. A top official is learnt to have got transfer orders after the incident even as the DoT rushed to put the certificates in abeyance after realising the error.

On Wednesday, the Cabinet Committee on Security approved a directive mandating telecom service providers to purchase equipment only from “trusted sources”. This is meant to ensure that Chinese telecom equipment manufacturers such as Huawei and ZTE are kept out of future expansion including 5G technology services.

“Huawei was issued three Mandatory Testing Certification of Telecommunication Equipment (MTCTE) (dated November 4, 9 27) for conducting the trial and testing,’’ he said.

This happened despite the government asking telecom companies to reduce their dependence on Chinese equipment makers, another person in the know said.

Last week, in a fresh notice, the department has put the certificates in abeyance. Similar certificates issued to other telecom equipment vendors have also been put in abeyance.

“Huawei India received the certificates as part of MTCTE Phase-2 procedure. We will fully support the authorities and continue to comply with MTCTE or any other requirements as per the law of the land,” the company’s spokesperson said.

It is learnt that Huawei had started shipping the PON (passive optical network) equipment from the Chinese ports, but had to halt the process as the certification is on hold for now.

Recently, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) was directed by the Union government to stop using Chinese equipment for 4G rollout. The firm was even asked to rework its tender for sourcing 4G equipment to mainly encourage domestic gear makers.

DoT had, on June 17, asked the telecom company to cancel its tender for the roll-out of 4G. A reworked tender, to be floated later, was likely to contain provisions spelling out the ban on Chinese telecom gear vendors.

Although there was no ban on purchasing gears from Chinese telecom equipment vendors, the government has been placing “comprehensive security conditions” for such vendors as part of the licensing norms.

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