India should push for telecom equipment manufacturing in the country not only for economic reasons but also to alleviate security concerns, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).
According to ETTelecom, Trai Chaiman RS Sharma said “Other than the economic benefits, security concerns arising out of excessive reliance on foreign-manufactured products also suggest that India should aim at achieving self-sufficiency in telecom equipment manufacturing,”.
Sharma’s suggestions come at a time when nearly 95 percent of the telecom gear demand in the country continues to be met through imported products, with multinational companies such as Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE and Juniper doing brisk business in India’s Rs 1.35 lakh crore equipment market.
India’s telecom equipment import bill stood at Rs 100,000 crore in 2015-16, according to the Department of Telecom (DoT) data, having increased at an annual rate of 16.3 percent in the past four financial years.
Experts said that domestic telecom manufacturing is imperative to make a success of the government’s Make in India programme and that the regulator’s suggestion may drive the DoT to focus on the capital-intensive segment which had not been seriously considered till recently.
In December 2010, Trai had initiated a consultation process for ‘encouraging telecom manufacturing in India’ and had in April 2011 recommended the telecom equipment manufacturing policy to the government. In September this year, the sector watchdog issued a new consultation paper on promoting ‘local telecom equipment manufacturing’ and sought views on the initiatives and methodology to propel localised gear production.
In order to safeguard Indian telecom networks from any cyber threat, the regulator sought comments from the stakeholders on the issues pertaining to network equipment testing.
Sharma said that DoT’s move to consider locally made security products to protect government-run networks, including Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL), was a step in the right direction.