KOLKATA: Research body C-DoT has dialed the telecom department to bar Chinese network vendors Huawei and ZTE from bidding in the communication ministry’s Rs 20,000-crore broadband venture involving the roll out of a national optic fibre network (NOFN) that will take high-speed internet to the hinterlands.
The research body, in an internal note to telecom secretary R Chandrasekhar, saysIndiamust keep Huawei and ZTE out of sensitive government projects in the aftermath of a recentUScongressional report that warned both Chinese gear-makers pose a security threat to telecom networks worldwide.
“It may be a worthwhile to look into options of isolating Huawei and ZTE from competing in the NOFN tenders since both companies are not allowed to compete in US tenders based on security risk, and this is well documented and orchestrated by the US House of Representatives in their intelligence report,” says C-DoT executive director VVR Shastry in an internal note to Chandrasekhar, reviewed by ET, adding that several European countries, Canada and Australia had already stopped buying network gear from both Chinese vendors following the US alert.
State-owned C-DoT also criticised the government’s decision not to select a fibre technology developed by it for the Rs 20,000-crore initiative to lay optic fibre connecting all panchayats in the country, claiming this would undermine six years of research. The technology, known as GPON or ‘Gigabit Passive Optical Network’ is reckoned to be a preferred fibre technology standard by telcos as it supports triple-play services, comprising voice, data and video signals.
In fact, C-DoT has urged DoT to allow 100% domestic sourcing of GPON gear for the NOFN venture by tweaking preferential market access (PMA) norms, in light of “a 22% cost disadvantage for electronics manufactured in India compared to imports”.
Under the PMA notification, indigenous C-DoT products will have 75% share while the balance 25% may be sourced from global vendors for the NOFN project. But what may tilt the balance towards non-Indian products is a PMA clause that states price of indigenous products must match the L1 price quoted by non-Indian vendors.