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Qualcomm may replicate China model in India, Soin

Qualcomm intends to build its China model in India where it will support the local semiconductor ecosystem by licensing technologies to local companies and startups, and bring volumes for production at semi conductor fabrication units that are expected to come up in the country in the long run, Qualcomm’s newly-appointed India president Savi Soin said in an interaction with Mint.

“Our CEO has said that if fabs or Outsourced Semiconductor Assembly and Testing (OSATs) come to India, we are going to bring business here. Any conversation we’re having with partners or government is that we bring tech and volumes. We’re very interested just like we did in China, to bring the technology. We have a programme on mentorship (for startups), and we also bring scale,” he said.

Qualcomm is a fabless chip maker which designs the latest technology processing integrated circuits and gets them manufactured from foundries across the world including China. The US-based chip maker has been setting up joint ventures, limited partnerships, and has brought cutting edge technology to China over the last 15 years. Soin noted that Qualcomm could look at a similar strategy for India, which is beginning to attract the global semiconductor ecosystem.

Qualcomm could also look at using the design-linked incentive or DLI, and production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes offered by the Indian government to make chips for the global market.

“DLI is very important and we’re going to support it 100% because it creates the India ecosystem. We’re looking at it on a case-by-case basis, not only how we benefit from DLI but also how our customers benefit from it. I would love to do DLI, and PLI on chips that I’m making for the global market. For instance, if a local player sets up OSAT, we would love to design the production of chips here and get that benefit for what we’re shipping,” he added.

Soin said the DLI and PLI schemes were strategically important for doing business in India. In case of DLI, the company was looking at sharing its design expertise with manufacturers to create better connectivity products, for instance, in the fixed wireless access space, where players like Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel will have a larger play in the coming quarters. “We’re talking to a larger manufacturing company and they’re, now starting to pick up design for DLI purposes,” he said, without naming the manufacturer.

The company’s India head added that private 5G deployments were a big focus area where a variety of use cases could be in 5G connected cameras, sensors, industrial grade barcoding, et al. Pointing to the lack of volumes and devices that were holding back private 5G deployments in the country, Soin said Qualcomm was partnering with system integrators and telcos in India to provide packaged solutions for companies wanting to deploy private 5G solutions, through a ‘system integrators as a service’ model.

“In the US, it’s called managed service providers, who are now buying these devices. In India, we’re starting to have these discussions, where we can build the most creative business models. We’re talking to system integrators and telcos, where some telcos are saying that we would want to have a system integrator arm,” he added.

Qualcomm was also talking to surveillance camera providers for adding more intelligence in the home and enterprise spaces, thus building edge AI use cases and models where data need not reside on the cloud. “The use cases can include noise cancellation using AI algorithm while being on a call in a train, which does not need to be on the cloud but can be on the edge.”

The chip maker that provides the latest chip designs for smartphones now increasingly expects more business to come from the automotive sector as car makers leapfrog to provide high tech smartphone-like solutions within cars. Soin added that the company was talking to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in India for helping them ‘leap frog’ to providing telematics, services such as digital cockpit, entertainment and others, akin to developments in China. “The Indian OEMs are saying that we want to work with you to bring those digital technologies into the car at that pace (similar to China),” he added. Livemint

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