Locally Made Gear Strategically Important: TRAI Chief

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Manufacturing of backend telecom equipment is of strategic as well as economic importance and it is up to the government to take a call on the matter.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) feels that localised manufacturing of telecom equipment would be strategically and economically significant for India, and it expects the government to accept its views soon.

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Trai chairman Ram Sewak Sharma told Economic Times that manufacturing of backend telecom equipment is of strategic as well as economic importance and it is up to the government to take a call on the matter. The regulator, however, feels that the “safety and security of the telecom infrastructure and equipment” is of absolute importance.

Recently, the Indian telecom operators such as Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel have also sought clarification from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on whether they could use Huawei’s 5G gear.

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The broad principle of domestic manufacturing, according to Sharma, was based on strategic significance and the government’s Make in India program.

Multinationals vs the government
On the flip side, industry-led by multinationals, feel that the local production is a capital-intensive exercise, and the appropriate market opportunity in the country is not viable, and rather attractive sops are given to create the country an export destination for the rest of the world.

Trai secretary Sunil Kumar Gupta countering multinationals’ views said that while giving recommendations, Trai has examined all the aspects, and added that if the regulator’s suggestions are accepted in the right spirit, it would benefit every stakeholder.

Swedish gear maker Ericsson said that the government and the regulator should create a level the playing field for all companies who do local manufacturing in India without differentiating whether they are local or foreign.

Capital intensive equipment used in ICT manufacturing are sourced worldwide, and to increase local manufacturing, the Indian government should encourage import of such equipment at zero or very low duties, according to Ericsson.

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