Connectivity in LWE Region: Made in India
Having given so much to the world, are we ready to Make In India and give telecom equipment and expertise to the world? Supportive policies and recent trends suggest that the domestic industry is poised to not only contribute to a burgeoning demand at home, but make a huge contribution to the world, especially developing economies that are following our example of using ICT to leapfrog their economies.
From sone ki chidiya to a net importer of telecom equipment
Ever since the dawn of civilization, India has been giving to the world. We invented the zero, filled the coffers of the East India Company, and sent our people across the world to make invaluable contributions in the fields of commerce, medicine, law, finance and management. Today, India is recognized as the software development centre of the world. And with the world’s fastest growing telecom market and a strong startup culture, India’s pre-eminence in the Information Age is hardly in question.
Yet, today we face a situation where we import more telecom equipment than we export. And we’re not exactly top of mind when you think telecom design and manufacture. Why is that?
Is it that we are not as good as the Scandinavians and Chinese? Is it that we lack the infrastructure or environment necessary for innovative design and manufacture?
Golden days ahead for telecom equipment Made In India?
Consider the ground situation.
We have a huge domestic telecom market. Shri Manoj Sinha, Telecom Minister, recently declared that the Indian demand for telecom products is projected to become 30 billion USD annually, by 2020. Such a massively growing market fuels our domestic industry by offering scale, diversity and maturity to those who wish to address it.
Manufacturing in India is no longer an assembly operation and our design capabilities today are as good as any in the world. We make practically every telecom hardware system spanning access, transmission, and core network equipment. Investment in Research and Development is increasing, and it is recognized as an integral part of the process.
What’s special about Made in India telecom products?
Today, the world understands that Indian manufacturing and design is far more relevant, particularly to the requirements of developing economies. That's because Indian solutions are simple, robust, yet intelligent, and optimized for harsh operating conditions. They are generally IP-based, consume little power, and can be configured without any expert help. Most of all, they're cost-effective and proven across the world.
All this suggests that the dawn of a golden age for the Indian telecom equipment industry is not far away.
Made in India for the world. And India, too!
Indian companies such as VNL have already landed on foreign shores, particularly in developing countries. Across Africa, Latin America, and ASEAN, VNL has installed equipment that creates mobile and broadband networks for rural communities and remote locations.
At home, VNL has already deployed, in association with BSNL, the world’s largest green mobile network using indigenously developed technology and products in Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) affected areas. This is part of the Indian government’s initiative of connecting unconnected regions of the country, like the Red Corridor, North-East and border areas.
2199 solar-powered mobile communication towers have been setup in Indian states worst affected by extremism, in a record time of less than one year. Optimised base-stations beam GSM voice and data signals from these towers, and are networked with the nearest BSNL exchanges. Wireless backhaul and subscriber management is provided by BSNL.
Changing lives, and the future
Voice and data connectivity has opened the doors to a whole new world for citizens. In areas bereft of roads, railways and electricity, communicating with family, friends, associates and the outside world is now possible. Information related to agricultural inputs and markets is now available. Banking and other commercial activities are now accessible. Emergency and other health services are within reach. Governance is easier and more interactive.
The project is already showing a net positive impact on the LWE areas.
22,688 villages are now connected in 90 districts across the disturbed states. The network covers nearly 1.8 crore citizens, with 39 lakh mobile connections. Around 26,500 local youth have been directly and indirectly employed, and security forces operating in the region now have many more connected soldiers.
But that’s just the direct impact at the ground level. What’s more important is perhaps, the invaluable learning gathered in the process of implementing this unique network. This ‘Made In India’ expertise is now available to any country that similarly wants to use ICT as a tool to develop its own economy.
Here’s looking forward to golden times for the Indian telecom industry, once again!
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