India should aim for net zero imports of telecom equipment by 2022: Trai

  • 04-Aug-2018
  • India should aim for net zero imports of telecom equipment by 2022: Trai

Telecom regulator Trai has recommended that India should aim for net zero imports of telecom equipment by 2022 and a fund with an initial corpus of Rs 10 billion should be created to promote research, design and testing of such products in the country.

The regulator said its recommendations are to make India transform from an import-dependent sector to a global hub for indigenous manufacturing of telecom equipment.

According to data shared by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), the export of telecom instrument stood at $1,201.7 million, while imports totalled $21,847.92 million in 2017-18.

Experts believe that one of the primary reasons for increasing imports and decreasing exports is the relentless competition from China, which is known for large-scale production and export of low-cost telecom equipment, besides imports from other countries such as Sweden, Finland and the US.

While issuing a suo-moto consultation paper on the subject in September last year, Trai had said a liberal trade policy enabling import of telecom equipment with low or no duty has kept both service providers and consumers happy. However, the lack of capacity building for domestic production posed a serious challenge to India’s continued success in the telecom sector. The authority had also suggested manufacturing telecom equipment in the country to offset security concerns because of excessive reliance on foreign-made goods.

“India should aim to achieve the objective of net zero imports of telecommunication equipment by 2022. For this purpose, Telecom Equipment Manufacturing Council (TEMC) should identify and recommend specific areas of priorities,” Trai said while giving a set of 18 recommendations on the subject. The regulator has also suggested that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) should monitor the progress of domestic telecom equipment manufacturing and a dedicated unit should be set up for facilitating equipment design and development.

For promoting research, innovation, design, testing and certification of telecom equipment, Telecom Research and Development Fund with an initial corpus of Rs 10 billion should be created. Subsequently, Trai said creation of Telecom Entrepreneurship Promotion Fund (TEPF) and Telecom Manufacturing Promotion Fund (TMPF) should also be considered.

Trai also pitched for setting up of Telecommunication Equipment Development Board (TEDB) under DoT for faster decision making on funding and incentives.

“Alternate Dispute Resolution Framework for time bound resolution of patent licensing disputes should be institutionalised in the country,” Trai said.

It further said that mandatory testing and certification of the telecom equipment in the country should be started at the earliest. The regulator added that all telecom products meant for use in the telecommunication network or by consumers and marketed in the country should be classified as either fully finished imported products or indigenous products.

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