Telecom PLI: Samsung Is Now Eyeing Incentives Through Contracts With Jio, Airtel

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Besides meeting local telecom equipment demand initially, Samsung is also evaluating the possibility of exporting 4G and 5G gear from India

South Korean electronics giant Samsung, which had previously refused to participate in the telecom production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, is reportedly in talks with Indian telecom majors Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel for 4G expansion and 5G supply contracts.

This comes as the company has shown interest in applying for the next edition of the second phase of the PLI scheme for network equipment to locally manufacture 4G and 5G products, which it has also conveyed to the telecom department.

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“Samsung has made its stance clear to the DoT in recent meetings. During its discussions, Samsung has shared a letter with the government that says it will be interested in the phase 2 of the PLI scheme,” an ET report stated while citing a person familiar with the matter.

Besides meeting local telecom equipment demand initially, Samsung is also evaluating the possibility of exporting 4G and 5G gear from India. “The demand mapping will be done once there is a confirmation on PLI 2.0,” the person said.

Samsung had in mid-2021 decided not to take part in the initial PLI scheme reasoning that setting up a plant for network equipment was not viable at that time in India with just one client, Reliance Jio Infocomm. The Korean major had then told officials in the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) that its plants in Vietnam, South Korea and China have sufficient capacity for global demand, including to meet demand for Jio’s 4G network. Samsung has been importing the equipment duty-free through the free trade agreement (FTA) route from South Korea and Vietnam.

But since then, Samsung has been talking to Jio as well as the likes of Bharti Airtel for 4G and 5G equipment supply contracts. Airtel has been looking at options to diversify its vendor base beyond European gear makers Nokia and Ericsson.

Samsung is one of the key players to be leveraging the Indian government’s PLI scheme for mobile phones. It was the only company to have achieved investment and output targets under the scheme in the last fiscal year.

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