Indian Govt Introduces New Rules for ISP Gateways

Private Internet service providers (ISPs) will be allowed to set up gateways in their service areas only, but those with a nationwide license will have the option to set up gateways anywhere in the country, according to a new set of guidelines drawn up by the inter-ministerial committee on Internet security.

Although ISPs normally set up gateways in their service areas, official sources said that they have taken this step to prevent companies from using their ISP licenses as a pretext to access gateway business outside their service areas.

The guidelines will be finalized and announced by the end of this month. However, no decisions were made on whether the guidelines would be notified separately or included in the ISP agreements through an amendment.

The committee, which includes department of telecom (DoT), department of electronics (DoE), ministry of defence, NIC and Nasscom, prescribed that ISPs should ensure a minimum of 40 DES (unit for measuring security level) link. It was also suggested that ISPs set up equipment enabling security agencies to monitor networks.

Once Internet companies set up the infrastructure, they have to establish international links (gateways) to access data, voice and video from networks all over the world.

Companies without their own gateways gain access through international telecom companies, like Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (VSNL), India’s overseas communications monopoly carrier and an ISP itself. Most of the ISPs, including the state-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL), plan set up their own gateways but depend on VSNL at present.

Official sources said that under the guidelines, Internet companies might be allowed to offer gateway services to other ISPs, which will reduce their dependence on VSNL.

The Internet policy already allows for interconnection between the ISPs. According to the guidelines, only ISPs would be allowed to set up gateways.

Some non-ISPs approached the government to allow
them to set up the gateways, but their requests were denied. DoT will be
the nodal point for distribution and collection of applications, which
would be forwarded to the group for granting clearances.

The guidelines have not indicated any time frame for granting clearances
for gateways.

Internet companies have been allowed to set up their gateways by the
government, based on the recommendations of the IT task force.

There has been some resistance from DoT as well as VSNL to allow private
companies to set up the gateways on grounds of security and revenue

ISPs, on the other hand, lobbied hard to break VSNL’s monopoly on gateways
and said that their dependence on VSNL would affect quality and efficiency
of their services because of inadequate bandwidth.

The ISPs said that VSNL, which held a monopoly on Internet services
until last year, would be their competitor and dependence on VSNL would
restrict their freedom to tie up with international carriers of their

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