India Poised To Play 'Decisive Role' In 5G Era, Says TRAI Secretary
An illuminated 5G sign sits beside smartphones in Paris, France. (Photographer: Nathan Laine/Bloomberg)

India Poised To Play 'Decisive Role' In 5G Era, Says TRAI Secretary

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India is poised to play a "decisive role" in the 5G era, given inherent strengths in digital and software capabilities, while liberal FDI regime, progressive manufacturing programmes, and resolve for self-reliance would usher large investments and growth in the telecom market, a senior TRAI official said on Thursday.

The heavy dependence on the import of telecom equipment has been a point of concern, given financial impact and security implications, and a well-planned and focused approach on indigenous production "will be the way forward". This particularly so, as existing global supply chains are getting disrupted and new opportunities are emerging in telecom development, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India secretary S.K Gupta said.

"While there has been an exponential growth of telecom networks, we are hugely dependent on the import of telecom equipment. Telecom imports have been in the range of 1 lakh crore plus every year which is a point of concern," Gupta said.

The focus now is on boosting the production of equipment in India and becoming self-reliant.

"Import of telecom equipment not only has an adverse financial impact but also raises security concerns. The risk associated with the concentration of supply chain in a few geographies have attracted the attention of world leaders," Gupta said addressing a webinar organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The government's clarion call for Atmanirbhar Bharat is "well-timed" as "existing global supply chains are getting disrupted and new opportunities are emerging in the field of telecom development", he observed.

India will play a decisive role in the new era of 5G and related developments, backed by strengths in software and digital infrastructure.

"Given the skill base in India, the scale of domestic market and technology orientation, India presents an attractive option for global manufacturers," he said.

Progressive and liberal Foreign Direct Investment regime, as also PLI scheme (Production Linked Incentive) for telecom equipment are set to spur manufacturing ecosystem in India, attracting large investment to the market.

The existing wide base of telecom and internet subscribers, affordable broadband services, combined with the power of advanced technologies like cloud, Artificial Intelligence, and platforms are paving the way for a digitally-strong `new India', he noted.

The pandemic has boosted the adoption of technologies across-the-board in a short span of time, and the emergence of telecom as one of the critical infrastructure for various services will further boost investment and growth in the sector.

Outlining the robust digital landscape, Gupta said India has 1.2 billion telephone subscribers, 1 billion digital ID holders of Aadhaar, 800 million internet subscribers. The data consumption too has risen to over 11 GB per subscriber per month.

"We have one of the world's largest fibre roll-out programmes Bharat Net, six lakh villages are to be connected through this flagship programme...we are able to provide all services - much cheaper prices and better standards," Gupta said.

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