Provisions in BSNL tender around access to source code of telecom gears for 4G network as well as depositing the software based code of both foreign and Indian firms in an escrow account will give government control to check snooping incidents by misusing the equipment, industry chamber PHDCCI said on Sunday. State-run BSNL has floated an expression of interest (EoI) to test the quality of Indian telecom equipment only before letting indigenous manufacturers participate in the 4G tender to be floated by the company. PHDCCI Telecom Committee’s Mentor and Co-Chairman of Telecom Export Promotion Council, Sandeep Aggarwal, in a letter to telecom secretary said BSNL’s EoI would ensure level-playing field for all indigenous technologies and also strengthen India’s cyber security preparedness.
“The game changing requirement of only Indian source code with unrestricted and irrevocable access to BSNL and DoT for the offered “Core” and depositing of Indian and foreign source code of RAN (radio access network) in an escrow account shall mean full control possibilities by the Indian Government against any current and prospective misuse of 4G equipment for snooping,” Aggarwal said. The BSNL EOI, however, only mandates Indian companies to have their own intellectual property right of the core equipment and right to modify source code of the equipment as it is a pre-qualifier for domestic telecom gear makers only for the upcoming 4G tender. BSNL employees have criticised the government for forcing the company to purchase telecom equipment from Indian companies and called their equipment sub-standard. “We do understand that we, the Indian manufacturers having been always sidelined from the bulk of the 4G telecom business of Core and RAN, may not be able to match the pricing of the hugely competitive, subsidized, politically and militarily motivated technologies developed by the Chinese, Americans etc, Aggarwal said. Expcept Indian telecom equipment makers and Chinese company Huawei, none of the foreign companies have agreed to disclose source code to the government.
Aggarwal said government may have to shell out some higher cost to buy indigenous technologies through its wholly-owned subsidiary-BSNL initially, but within a few years it will reap hundreds of billion dollars’ worth of additional GDP and huge tax collection on top of adding highly paying jobs for the tech India and the manufacturing sector. Domestic telecom companies with financial turnover of Rs 2,500 crore in the last three financial years or calendar year can participate in the EoI. The EoI condition mandates Indian companies or consortiums to have experience of commissioning at 45,600 mobile sites for 4G service in any one single network or 28,500 sites for 4G in at least two different networks each or 22,800 sites for 4G in at least three different networks each.