Make-in-India – Aatmanirbhar in Telecom network equipment and Research Covering the uncovered areas, procurement of equipment manufactured locally, incentivising local R&D

In the Leaders’ Keynote session at TLF 2022, Dr R K Bhatnagar, Director General of VOICE, spoke on how Indian industry can become aatmanirbhar

VoicenData Bureau
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In the Leaders’ Keynote session at TLF 2022, Dr R K Bhatnagar, Director General of VOICE, spoke on how Indian industry has been striving towards self-reliance or aatmanirbhar.


“The Atmanirbhar spirit in the Telecom sector is very important, given the PM’s vigorous thrust and the current state of import bill in the telecom sector. We are about to see, in the coming weeks and months, that we will attain a game-changing position as far as India is concerned. Already, we have a Make-in-India policy that covers all sectors, including telecom. This can resurrect the domestic manufacturing industry. It can enable design houses and start-ups in a strong way. To add to that, domestic industry related public procurement is a good initiative from the government.”

He underlined the impact of priority for domestic players in terms of practical market scenarios. “We (VOICE) have already shared a list of products with items where multiple suppliers and adequate competition are present. This is where domestic players can give competition to foreign competition both in terms of quality and pricing.”

He flagged the problem of policy-bypass by some sections who managed to avoid the specified compliances. “We need to segregate products. Policy circumvention needs to be aborted. Sometimes it is on grounds of interoperability issues and sometimes for introduction of proprietary products.”


He explained how clarity and direction can pave the path for priority and traction for Indian players. “Like - the government can issue a list of FAQs to take care of different interpretations by different departments and committees. The policy has provision of grievance management. Even before finalisation of tenders, time delays and litigation etc. can be avoided.”

While all this is great, we cannot turn our eyes away from the constraints of actual reach. We have already passed 75 years of independence, and still we have 25000 villages that do not have mobile connectivity or Internet. As network coverage and services can only be provided by License service providers, it is not open for innovators to bring in new solutions, he lamented.

“We need to establish private networks for coverage of such areas and village clusters. They can create independent networks and explore active and passive network elements as a shared resource. Many chunks of spectrum can be deployed for private networks- like spectrum allocated for Railways.”


He mentioned the provisions in the recent Budget which provides for funding coverage of rural areas using the USO fund and helping reach uncovered and remote locations of the country.

He elaborated on the significance of 5G research and the impact of the PLI scheme. “We cannot miss the bus on 5G, the way we missed it in 3G and 4G. With the right efforts, we can be in a position to be a technology force and in the 5G revolution.”

Technology transfers should be supported from government. Market access is an important area – which is a unique problem in the telecom sector, because large established players already have entrenched deployments.


Incentives to network and services providers in the private sector for procurement of local systems should be explored by the government. Government should create a common infrastructure so that equipment can be tested by plugging-in.

“Champion initiative schemes for each vertical can be ushered in – like quantum apps, rural apps, optical networking etc. – where each vertical can have one champion leader who should be fully supported for local as well as export activities”.

With the industry and government working hand in hand, we see a very positive outlook in the coming weeks.” The Government has already announced a policy towards this recently.


“The government is interacting well with the industry now. We have submitted some whitepapers which are being studied and witnessing action based on their recommendations.”

He concluded that India will be a global leader in 5G.




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