Accelerating domestic production of telecom gear in strategic interest: Trai chief

PTI, Aug 16, 2020, 12:31 PM IST

New Delhi: Amid wide-scale concerns overuse of Chinese gear in telecom networks, Trai Chairman R S Sharma has said that India must accelerate domestic manufacturing of communication equipment for “strategic” reasons.

While the country has become a manufacturing powerhouse for mobile handsets, the same must also be done for telecom equipment which forms the “central nervous system” of sensitive and strategically-important telecom networks, Sharma told PTI.

He added that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had earlier given its detailed recommendations on promoting local telecom equipment manufacturing.

Sharma’s comments assume significance in the backdrop of growing clamor around the world, as also in India, against the use of Chinese equipment in networks over security concerns.

India is evaluating whether Huawei and ZTE should be kept out of upcoming 5G trials, though a final decision on the issue is yet to come.

“It is in the strategic interest of our country that we accelerate the process of manufacturing telecom equipment, domestically. Trai has already given a detailed recommendation on it, sometime back,” Sharma said.

Asked if a renewed push for indigenous manufacturing in telecom is all the more important given the red-flags around Chinese-made equipment, he said, “Definitely. Certainly, it is important. Strategically, it is important.”

“We had given our recommendation, where we said that it is in the strategic interest of our country to have domestic manufacturing of telecom equipment,” he added.

The reason is while handsets are there at the edge of the system, the central nervous system is also an extremely important and sensitive piece, and therefore that equipment must be manufactured in the country, Sharma said.

“So we have given our suggestions on what should be done to drive that process,” the Trai chairman said.

Lauding the measures taken to promote manufacturing of the handsets in the country, he noted that production had reached a “massive scale” and India must now build on that success in indigenous telecom gear.

“We are doing handset manufacturing on a very massive scale, and having tasted that success, I am sure we can always build an ecosystem for manufacturing of domestic telecom equipment and we can become a global leader,” Sharma said.

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