NEW DELHI: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is finally implementing the mandatory testing and certification of telecommunications equipment (MTCTE) from October 1, 2019.
The development though offers some respite for mobile device makers as well as telecom equipment vendors for now as they have been not mentioned in the list. However, the two industries fear that they would be brought under the purview shortly.
In a notification dated July 4, the Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC), a DoT’s nodal agency, included certain equipment such as wired telecom equipment, cordless phone, fax machine, PABX and modem under the compulsory testing.
In September 2018, the state-controlled engineering division has extended the deadline for mandatory testing to April 1, 2019 from October 1, 2018.Device makers such as Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo, OnePlus, Vivo, Micromax, Lava and Karbonn as well as telecom gear companies such as Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei would not require to submit their devices and equipment to government-accredited test laboratories anytime this year.
The Mobile Association (TMA) that represents the mobile phone industry said that DoT launching the mandatory testing program would finally bring the global practices to the Indian mobile ecosystem.
The Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Rules 2017 mandate essential testing of devices and equipment in order to ensure public safety.
“The department’s engineering wing has painstakingly addressed gated obstacles over the past years in consultation with the industry and made this milestone a reality,” TMA president Bhawna Kumari said.
Kumari, however, added that still much would come up once the MTCTE starts churning out certified devices and equipment connecting to telecom networks.
Delhi-based TMA said that the excessive testing and registration cost for complying to certifications are high, and has sought DoT intervention to review and overhaul these steep prices so that such would not become an add-on cost that could impact the consumers at large.
The mobile phone companies and back-end gear makers have been demanding opening up of a satisfactory number of laboratories before mandating them to undertake such exercise, which according to them might delay their commercial launches and network deployments respectively.
“As India races towards fifth-generation (5G) technology, the variety of the devices and equipment which will connect to our networks are going to be complex and exhaustive. This launch is a right step at the right time in shaping India’s future telecom devices,” Kumari added.
The agency, however, further added, “the schedule for mandatory testing and certification of the remaining equipment shall be notified subsequently.”
“The notice indicates that testing of other network equipment will be notified shortly. We fully expect government to issue appropriate guidelines for testing of other network equipment over a period of time that does not disrupt the implementation of critical network infrastructure,” the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) director general Rajan S Mathews told ETTelecom.
Delhi-based COAI represents incumbent service providers— Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio as well as telecom gear makers such as Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei.
“The industry will work with the government to ensure that the essential security issues of the country are appropriately addressed,” Mathews added.
In a letter to telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan, dated May 29, 2018, the COAI has asked the department to postpone the deadline to at least October 1, 2019, and sought to keep software out of the test certification criterion, and advocated setting up of full-fledged test laboratories.