Indian government allows BSNL to order Chinese equipment

20 Aug 2010

The Indian government has announced that state-owned telecoms operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) will be allowed to purchase equipment from Chinese vendors, the Indian Economic Times reports. Previously telcos had been barred from procuring hardware from Chinese companies due to security concerns, but detailing the recent development Sachin Pilot, India’s Minister of State for Telecom and IT, noted: ‘In the interest of national security, the government had directed BSNL in May 2009 that resources should not be procured from the Chinese vendors for deployment in the sensitive regions (especially border states) … accordingly, now BSNL may enter into agreement with foreign vendors for purchase of equipments/ software/ services.’

The announcement comes on the back of BSNL employee unions raising the issue with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) last week, alleging that the ban was ‘discriminatory’, as private players were allowed the imports from China. Commenting on the rationale behind the block on BSNL placing orders with Chinese firms, Pilot said: ‘BSNL being a public sector undertaking, its network has to be relied upon in emergency.’