How Local Manufacturing Can Unlock India’s Spark in Telecoms


Close on the heels of Indian cabinet giving their green signal to setting up of two chip level fabrication units in the country, local manufacturing is set to drive further consumption of telecoms and communications in India.

Speaking at the Broadband Summit organized by CII, Vimal Wakhlu, Chairman & Managing Director, Telecommunications Consultants of India (TCIL) said that India is ideally poised to benefit from local manufacturing of telecom devices and equipment and this is the right time now to realize the full potential of the huge opportunity and also face the challenges.

“The way forward is broadband, but there are many challenges and we need to address the issue of creating the overall ecosystem for broadband. Creation of National level Optical Fiber Network or NOFN is a good beginning where 2,50,000 Panchayats are being connected, offering services like education, healthcare, village banking and it should provide communication where basic needs are not being met. So NOFN should go a long way in bridging the gap or the digital divide,” he added.

Emphasizing on the local manufacturing in India, he said that one of big challenges for us today is a huge import bill and the reason for that is telecom. “We are importing a lot of telecom equipment in the form of communications gear and even handsets. This is just one part of the challenge. We are also importing a lot of diesel to run these 400,000 sites for running mobile services. Is this a sustainable model? In my opinion, this cannot be sustained for long. Hence we need to create opportunities in local manufacturing of telecom products and this is the only way forward,” he explained.

As local manufacturing is becoming increasingly important for India, the government has taken the right step in the form of placing the PMA policy. This policy makes it mandatory for public sector organizations such as BSNL etc to give preference to locally produced telecom products. “This is a great policy and with the help of this policy, it becomes mandatory even for manufacturers from the other parts of the world to have local manufacturing capabilities here and strengthen their Indian manufacturing capabilities from time to time,” Wakhlu added.

In this scenario, telecom operators also need to have base stations that are eco friendly and consume less power. And with LTE and LTE advance, we are moving in the right direction as these technologies consume less energy.

“OpEx savings can propel operators to embrace these low energy solutions. And orgaisations such as the C-DOT can play a great role here. We must not forget that in India, we have 70 per cent of over 1.25 billion living in rural areas, so there is huge opportunity that can create large scale demand for telecom products.

Ericsson, the Right Global Desi Model

Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson is not a new name to India, and is creating the right “global desi model” of manufacturing. The organization is quite well entrenched in the Indian space and has its own manufacturing unit based at Jaipur in Rajasthan. After having provided telecoms equipment for the domestic market, the company’s plant in Jaipur is now looking at the global opportunity and is actually exporting telecom equipment to neighboring South East Asian region.

“In order to strengthen the overall telecom ecosystem, we need to focus on Access, Backhaul and Core of the network. As far as India is concerned, we have been there for many years now. We have a manufacturing plant in Jaipur where we are focusing on in house production of access products of 100, 300, 600 and 900 Mhz range,” explained, Daniel Sundelius, Head-Ericsson Supply Site, Jaipur, Ericsson India Pvt Ltd.

While the company has been catering to the domestic Indian market for many years, it is now exporting to South east Asian region from its Jaipur plant.

“I cannot disclose the kind of products that we are exporting but, yes, we are exporting to the SEA region from our Jaipur plant,” he informed.

Emphasizing on the need for connectivity, he adds on that moving forward, we are set to live in a communications era where connectivity will hold the big key to success. “The way we see it, we are moving towards Internet of Everything scenario, where everything, everywhere and everyone will be connected. It is more about the impact that this will have in our world. And our world will change. India has been quite strategic to our operations and we need to bring in component suppliers to India as well,” he added.

With global organizations such as Ericsson setting on the right direction to realize the full potential of local manufacturing in India, the time has truly come for the overall manufacturing ecosystem to respond to the market needs and this can surely unlock the spark for India’s telecoms in the  near future.

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