Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Govt. for preference to indigenous telecom equipment makers

New Delhi, March 16, 2011

With the import bill of telecom equipment rising, the government today said preferential treatment would be given to its indigenous production in the New Telecom Policy, which is under formulation.

The industry imported telecom equipment worth Rs. 36,256 crore in 2007-08, Rs. 46,809 crore in 2008-09 and Rs. 42,444 crore in 2009-10, said Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Telecom, in Lok Sabha during Question Hour.

He said that both import as well indigenous production increased in the last few years in view of exponential growth witnessed by the telecom sector.

India has over 750 million mobile subscribers with over 12 operators in each circle.

Mr. Pilot's reply assumes significance as most of the operators and foreign vendors have been opposing any special treatment for indigenous vendors. The domestic vendors have been asking for reserving unused frequencies (spectrum band) for indigenous production but are yet to get it.

"We have all access, expertise and have all the raw material... so there is no reason that we cannot compete with the foreign vendors as far as quality of telecom equipment is concerned," Mr. Pilot said.

Indigenous production of telecom equipment stood at Rs. 51,000 crore in 2009-10.

Telecom regulator TRAI has also floated a consultation paper last year seeking views of stakeholders and the industry on how to promote telecom equipment manufacturing in India, Mr. Pilot said.

Replying to another question, the Minister said the government was concerned over rising number of telecom towers using diesel and was working with the Ministry of Renewable Energy to shift to renewable sources for running these towers.

"There are about 5.5 lakh towers already established and with operators going to rural area this may further increase... Lakhs of litres of diesel is being used for operating these towers," he said.

The Ministries of Telecom and Renewable Energy are working to shift these towers on renewable sources wherever it is possible to reduce pollution level as well as diesel consumption, Mr. Pilot said.

On the reported malware in Chinese equipment, the Minister said the government was very much alive to the challenge and was working closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure that security was not breached at any level.

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