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Indian Army Adopts Indigenous 4G Base Station Technology

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For the first time, the defence force has deployed a complete ‘made-in-India’ transmission platform made by a Bengaluru-based firm.

The Indian Army has introduced its inaugural indigenous chip-based 4G mobile base station, sourced from Signaltron, a Bangalore-based company, through the government e-marketplace portal, as the founder Himamshu Khasnis revealed to the PTI.

The base stations, Sahyadri Network In a Box (NIB) systems, weighing 7 kilograms, provide secure wireless communication for audio, video, and data. It is capable of functioning in standalone and cellular modes, using older analogue and IP telephony systems.

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Currently, 20 units have been supplied to the defence force, and the deployment will depend on the army’s strategic requirements.

Last year, the Indian Army issued a procurement request on the Government e-marketplace (GeM) for a 4G LTE NIB (Network In a Box) solution. 

Signaltron presented the Sahyadri NIB solution and emerged victorious in several technical evaluations. As a result, the company secured the contract to supply the equipment through a competitive bidding process.

Khasnis highlighted that Signaltron had developed the entire system domestically, using India’s first 4G and 5G chips from Signalchip. 

He emphasised that this was the first instance of deploying an Indian system with indigenous chips for advanced communication technology in the army, underscoring the enhanced security control during operations.

Khasnis also noted that the majority of base stations currently deployed in India are imported, with even domestically manufactured ones lacking indigenous chips, which are crucial for modern electronic devices. Integrating indigenous systems could result in significant foreign exchange savings and contribute to GDP growth. 

He sees substantial market opportunities both domestically and globally, citing the promising prospects for indigenous solutions in sectors like defence and railways.

In 2010, Khasnis and his team established Signalchip, a fabless semiconductor company dedicated to producing chips for 4G and 5G networks. 

At present, India lacks a fabrication facility for modern semiconductor chips. Signalchip has developed its chips domestically and owns the entire technology it provides. Similar to leading semiconductor companies like Nvidia, Qualcomm, and MediaTek, Signalchip also manufactures its chips through third-party wafer fabs.

Khasnis expects the Indian base station market to hit USD 24 billion by 2029. He also anticipates the global CNPN 4G/5G market to surpass USD 30 billion by 2030, offering opportunities for local chip-based base stations.

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