India Bans Global Network Vendors From Rs 21,000 Crore Fibre Optic Venture
Bangalore: Top global network vendors have been barred by India’s telecommunications ministry from supplying gear for 21,000 crore broadband venture involving the rollout of a national fibre optic network (NOFN) that will take high-speed internet to far flung rural areas, reports Economic Times.
The global network vendors— Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and ZTE are not in department of telecommunications’ (DoT) certified list of vendors eligible to supply Gigabit Passive Optical Network, or GPON, which is the chosen fibre technology for this project.
As per DOT, the project is entirely given to domestic vendors that include, Himachal Futuristic Communications (HFCL), ITI, Tejas Networks, C-DoT, VMC Systems, Prithvi Infosystems, Sai Systems, United Telecoms and SM Creative. The project is overseen by a new entity called Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) and is being executed by BSNL and MTNL.
"We will comply with DoT's network security guidelines and norms to promote domestic manufacturing of network gear and will invite bids by mid-February," a top BBNL executive told ET.
This move by DoT came into force after the research body C-DoT (Center for Development of Telematics) urged the telecom ministry to shun Chinese vendors like Huawei and ZTE out of "sensitive government projects on security grounds". The research body stated that the recent reports by US Congress claimed both companies were a threat owing to their alleged links with the Chinese military.
"It is difficult to understand how the suggested levels of domestic sourcing for GPON equipment have been defined when they are yet to be launched or reach a certain level in terms of economies of scale in India," said a top executive with a leading international telecom gearmaker.
Another executive, who also declined to be named claimed that "the government may end up paying a higher amount for GPON gear as there was a 22 per cent cost disadvantage for electronics manufactured in India compared to imports".
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