Afte the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) submitted a memo to the Government of India to to bar Chinese network vendors Huawei and ZTE from bidding in the Rs 20,000-crore roll out of a national optical fiber network (NOFN) project, the Government has decided to heed the advice and bar all international vendors from the project.
The DoT has decided that it will be going ahead with a 100 per cent domestic sourcing and has released a list of certified GPON suppliers. (…) Local companies that made it to the certified list include Tejas Networks, Prithvi Infosystems, Center for Development of Telematics (C-DoT), VMC Systems, Sai Systems, United Telecoms, and SM Creative.
This follows the decision by US House Intelligence Committee which branded ZTE and Huawei as national threat:
The House Intelligence Committee said that after a yearlong investigation it had come to the conclusion that the Chinese businesses, Huawei Technologies and ZTE Inc., were a national security threat because of their attempts to extract sensitive information from American companies and their loyalties to the Chinese government.
While is is good that the GoI decided to look beyond the Chinese companies when considering possible threats, the question it raises is, isn’t it turtles all the way down? Is it certified that the local companies will use 100% indigenously developed components and if not, why is it better to prefer a “Assembled in India” sticker?
The FOFN project is a high investment and long term project that will power the infrastructure of Indian network for some time to come. So it is prudent for the GoI to tighten the security but it cannot be an isolated event. Nor is it viable to blanket-ban all foreign companies and technologies from such infrastructure and other sensitive projects. I hope someone higher up is thinking and acting seriously on an Information Assurance program within the scope of Critical Infrastructure Protection.