Conform or compromise? Indian security concerns split vendor opinions

The security concerns that have lead the Indian government to propose a ban on Chinese-made telecoms equipment has drawn a surprisingly mixed reaction from vendors.

While Swedish vendor Ericsson has condemned the outlined security demands as “unjustly onerous” and refuted the government’s implication that foreign vendors are entirely responsible for security, Chinese vendors are reacting rather differently.

ZTE has reportedly confirmed that it will bring its equipment in line with government specifications, while Huawei is expected to follow suit, demonstrating that the Chinese vendors are anxious to profit from the potentially lucrative Indian market.

The Indian government is concerned that foreign, and particularly Chinese-made network equipment could be used to gain illegal access to Indian networks; however, these anxieties have compromised Indian operators as well as Chinese vendors, with construction of new infrastructure slowing to a crawl in the wake of the new security criteria – particularly damaging as India has just issued 3G licences.

Chinese vendors appear to be declaring that they will comply with Indian regulations; three Indian operators have delivered this message to the authorities following talks with vendors. Ericsson meanwhile maintains that certification by an “agency of repute” eliminates the need for products to meet any other demands made by the Indian government – including the requirement to share the source code used in hardware.

Ericsson is not the only firm to express disapproval - numerous international trade bodies have reportedly made official appeals to the Indian government seeking a compromise that will allow trade to continue while meeting the new security criteria.

The desire to reach a compromise is unsurprising, particularly in light of an Associated Press report stating that the combined orders from Indian companies logged by Huawei and ZTE is worth US$750 million.

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