Indian telecoms equipment market now worth $6bn


The government claims the rapid growth has been spurred by initiatives like Make in India and the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme

This week, a press release from India’s Ministry of Communication (MoC) has revealed that sales of telecoms equipment made in the country have risen to Rs 50,000 crore ($5.99 billion). This represents an increase of 370% compared to the FY 2019–2020.

Telecoms exports have also grown significantly, rising to approximately Rs 10,500 crore ($1.25 billion).

The government attributes this growth to various government-backed schemes, including the Make in India initiative and the PLI, which the MoC says has attracted Rs 3,400 crore ($407 million) of investment in the past three years.

These schemes, part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s wider ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (‘self-reliant India’) approach, are focussed on supporting domestic manufacturing industries via various subsidies, tax breaks, and strategic investments.

Alongside spurring growth of the telecoms equipment market, the MoC claims the initiatives have also resulted in the creation of over 17,800 direct jobs and many more indirect.

In a politically charged tweet, Minister of Communications and Electronics, Ashwini Vaishnaw, praised the efficacy of the PLI, calling domestic telecoms equipment production “a dream for India”.

The reality of mobile phone, electronics and telecom product manufacturing is known to all except those who don’t like our country’s progress.

In 2014-15, India produced only 5.8 Crore mobile phones and imported about 21 Crore mobile phones. In 2023-24, Bharat produced 33 Crore…

— Ashwini Vaishnaw (@AshwiniVaishnaw) July 9, 2024

In the last five years, the trade deficit in telecoms equipment and mobile phones has shrunk dramatically, falling from Rs 68,000 crore ($8.1 billion) in 2019 to Rs 4,000 crore ($470 million) in 2024. In fact, the MoC claims that the Indian telecom industry is almost self-sufficient in some areas of telecoms technology, such as antennae, GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Network), and CPE (Customer Premises Equipment).

It should be noted, however, that despite this progress, India still remains heavily reliant on exports for telecoms equipment, particularly when it comes to mobile devices themselves. In the last fiscal year, India imported seven times as much telecoms equipment (including mobile phones) as it exported, valued at Rs 1,46,000 crore ($17.5 billion) and Rs 20,000 crore ($2.4 billion), respectively.

India’s domestic telecoms capabilities are no doubt increasing dramatically, but so too is the demand for equipment for its network operators for devices for consumers. Despite its best efforts – and despite vocal efforts of Reliance Jio to develop exportable 5G equipment – India still lacks telecoms equipment players with the scale to truly challenge the global hegemony of Ericsson, Nokia, and Huawei.

For the time being at least, self-sufficiency within the Indian telecoms market remains a long way off.

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