NEW DELHI: Telecom carriers, gear makers and mobile handset companies have sought intervention from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to fast-track Equipment Type Approval (ETA) process, also a part of ease of doing business to enable imports, deployment and new product launches in the country.

“There is no immediate impact but the pain point is the volume of gear that needs to be imported to keep networks provisioned with spares and equipment in the next nine to 12 months, may not happen since the industry has not received the ETA certificate from the WPC,” an industry source on anonymity told ETT.

The uncertainty around equipment approvals by the department’s Wireless Planning & Coordination Wing (WPC) is likely to impact further imports into the country that may also force companies to pay penalties to the customs department.

Both, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and the Indian Cellular Electronics Association (IESA) that lobbies for handset makers, have sought arbitration from the department’s top officials, and in separate letters dated April 8, seen by ETT, have said that the department’s wing has not processed any application since more than a month and that despite the process moving to online.

“With the current Covid-19 situation, digitalisation and remote working is gaining more importance and any hindrances on approvals to import products like short-range devices by delaying the approvals will be a counterproductive measure,” the COAI in the letter said.

The Delhi-based telco group represents Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea in addition to gear vendors such as Huawei, Nokia, Ericsson, Cisco and ZTE.

Queries to the Wireless Advisor and Member – T at the Department of Telecommunications did not elicit any response.

The department’s statutory body that offers licensing and regulation, and radiofrequency allocation in coordination with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), typically takes a week’s time to approve applications digitally.

In Septemeber 2018, the department headed by then secretary Aruna Sundararajan had moved the certification and import licensing regime to an online system as a part of ease of doing business policy initiative.

Meanwhile, on Monday, the representatives of the Delhi-based industry body met telecom secretary Anshu Prakash and other top officials who have, however, assured the group that the issue of timely approval would be addressed expeditiously.

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