Hyundai Motor India and Wipro NSE -0.41 % Limited are in talks with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to set up testing centres as the government finalises plans for mandatory local testing of telecom equipment by the end of this financial year.

The South Korean automaker and the Indian information technology services firm have entered into initial discussions with the engineering wing of the DoT and have shown interest in setting up laboratories in India for testing telecom equipment, officials told ET.

“New test labs are being set up. Hyundai’s representatives have come to us and the company wants to establish a telecom lab in India,” said Shakeel Ahmad, senior deputy director general, Telecommunication Engineering Centre.

TEC is a Delhi-based nodal agency of the DoT which establishes standards and specifications for telecom products, services and networks.

Ahmad said that Hyundai’s representatives discussed the feasibility and scope of telecom-centric testing in India with the officials of the government’s telecom engineering division. The Seoul headquartered company already operates a testing centre for motor vehicles in India, he said, and wants to expand into telecommunications.

“Wipro is also interested in setting up a security lab for telecom sector,” Ahmad said. 

ET’s queries to Hyundai and Wipro did not elicit any response till late evening on Friday. 

Under new rules, the Narendra Modi-led government has mandated that multinational gear vendors such as Finnish Nokia, Swedish Ericsson, and Chinese Huawei and ZTE get their equipment locally tested and certified from March 31, 2019.

At present, India has 20 designated test laboratories, most of which have recently been accredited to conduct desired checks for the safety requirement of telecom equipment. These labs are predominantly spread across Delhi and its suburbs of Gurgaon, Noida and Sahibabad.

The government’s focus on local gear testing, according to Ahmad, has created much business interest among private sector entities to extend their capabilities into the entirely new domain.

Lobby group Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) – which represents Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular – wrote a letter to DoT secretary on May 29 advocating setting up of full-fledged test labs before implementing new rules.

Ahmad said that TEC has also started the process to authorise more than 15 centres, for which it has already received applications from private sector laboratories.

Telecom sector players, predominantly gear makers, have been opposing the move towards mandatory local testing, saying it would cost them an estimated Rs 1,500 crore annually in assessment charges, and may delay network deployment and expansion. 

TEC has, however, added two components to the pricing structure – application fee for evaluation and a standard test tariff. Private designated labs would charge as per their tariff and that the government would have no control over it, said Ahmad. 

The amended Indian Telegraph Rules, 2017, require telecom equipment to undergo testing and certification prior to sale or import for use in India. The tests, according to the notification, would be carried out for conformance to essential requirements by Indian accredited labs designated by TEC and based upon their test reports, a certificate shall be issued by the centre.

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