India has entered into an elite club of countries with chipset-level innovation, telecom secretary Aruna SundararajanWednesday said, adding that it was extraordinary that an Indian company has come forward and launched not only 4G-LTE chip but also a 5G NR modem.
Bangaluru-based semiconductor company Signalchip Wednesday unveiled a dual carrier 4G/LTE and 5G NR standards-based modem that can work on up to 6GHz frequency range — creating a breakthrough after eight-year long research and development (R&D) activities in multiple complex domains.
“This is a pioneering innovation. It is something which is huge for India. With the first in-house chip, India is able to break into an elite club of countries,” Sundararajan said, adding that the new development would also have deep implications on data sovereignty and security.
Only eight companies worldwide have capabilities to design semiconductor chips, she added.
With India’s foray into chipset technology driven by a 40-member led startup, Signalchip that has unveiled highly-sophisticated system on chip (SoC) for small cell base stations, the company has become an arch rival to the globally dominant US majors such as Qualcomm, Intel and Broadcom.
“Not only a first 4G-LTE chip coming from India but also a 5G chip. If Indian manages to bring into IPR, it would be groundbreaking,” the top official said and expects that the original equipment makers would take advantage of technology.
Sundararajan feels that the new chipset technology may be taken up by a small group of companies and countries initially while that could further increase performance as it would go along the competitive market.
“When we talk of 5G, we think of foreign original equipment makers coming and setting up infrastructure,” she added.
Stanford University professor AJ Paulraj who is also heading the high-level 5G Forum said recently said that only indigenous technology could ward off security threat, and network gear from Nokia and Ericsson could be equally unsafe.
“Core ICT capabilities are going to be a key differentiator as we see the US and China battling out for it. Many countries are watching how India acquires technology and has economic stakes,” the official said.
Sundararajan, without naming any individual firm said that a company gets a royalty of $16.5 per phone and that too forever while India wants a Rs 5,000 worth of phone, and that has immense economic as well as security implications.
“India does not contribute in critical technologies though it would have a lot of economically and strategical impact,” Zoho founder and chief executive Sridhar Vembu said, adding that Zoho and Signalchip were working closely in bringing unparalleled efficiencies.
“The idea is to make the chip cost effective with as low as $250 for a miniature device mounted on towers. The price-to-performance ratio is a key differentiator,” Vembu added.
India is expected to import semiconductor chips worth Rs 1,87,200 crore from a Rs 36,21,600 crore market worldwide in 2020.
“Semiconductor is at the heart of any technology. Indian companies have no ownership at the silicon core level. Building competencies in the semiconductor are key to India’s technology roadmap,” Himamshu Khasnis, founder and chief executive, Signalchip said.
The company has 240 large and small IP modules and it has filed 24 patents but, however, feels that commercialisation of new products would be a challenging aspect. ―Gadgets Now