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Indian telecom industry set to transform in next two years

With the outbreak of the pandemic, the telecom sector was one of the sectors that rose to the occasion, owing to the country’s greater need for a reliable connectivity. Over the years, the telecom industry has played a significant role in connecting people across the globe, and it was so much visible, especially in the last two years.

In India, the telecom story has been a roller coaster. However, the policy reforms and the recently announced relief package will help in improving the overall health of the sector. Apart from the policy reforms, the initiatives like the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme of the Indian government to stimulate indigenous manufacturing in the telecom equipment industry will also help India to emerge as a global powerhouse for electronics and telecom equipment.

The telecom PLI scheme was introduced in February this year, and the government recently issued the license to many global and domestic companies, Nokia being one of them. India is expected to receive an investment of around ₹3300 crore from these 31 companies over the next four years, resulting in additional 40,000 jobs. This strategic move will help in realizing our Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of an Atmanirbhar Bharat, and establishing India as a major investment hub.

Nokia is one of the first companies in telecom to set up a manufacturing base in India (in Chennai), and we remain committed to the Make in India initiative and continue to invest as India gets ready to embrace 5G and associated technologies.

Further, in a bid to attract more investments, the government also raised foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in telecom sector through the automatic route to 100 percent from the earlier 49 percent. This would allow the global companies to invest in the Make in India initiative of the government to realize the vision of an Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Talking about 5G, in May 2021, the government allocated spectrum to telecom companies to carry out trials of 5G technology. The trial duration has now been extended till May 2022. 5G has evolved into a global technology within a short span of time – the first 5G network was launched in 2019 and today we have 173 operators in 69 countries/territories that have launched 5G mobile services as per GSA November 2021 report.

5G will have a massive impact on society, industry, and consumers in India and will be the key enabler for bridging the digital divide and drive digital transformation. Telecom equipment manufacturers have already begun 5G trials with Indian CSPs that go beyond consumers and address a range of segments including education, healthcare, smart transport, and logistics, among others.

The high speed, low latency, and high capacity that 5G offers will help improve the efficiency, safety, and productivity for the enterprise segment.

With commercial 5G services in India expected to begin sometime next year, the supporting infrastructure needs to be spruced up at a fast pace to keep up with the 5G network requirements.

Nokia is actively engaged with the Indian CSPs on 5G trials and has made several public announcements on the milestones achieved under the trials. Globally, Nokia has announced more than 200 5G commercial deals and 72 live 5G operator networks that speak volumes for its solid experience and expertise.

Concerns around telecom network security have emerged as a major threat for countries across the globe. To address the growing security concerns, the government has made it mandatory for the CSPs to connect in their networks only those new devices that are designated as trusted products from trusted sources. This is a welcome move to safeguard the networks against potential security threats.

However, sufficient time should be given to the concerned parties so that there may not be any disruption to the network expansions and deployments till such time that the process is completed.

I believe in the next two years, India will witness one of the most significant transformations in its telecom history leading to world class telecom services getting available to the consumers and enterprises, and India emerging as the global manufacturing hub for telecom equipment.

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