After getting comments and counter-comments from the stakeholders, TRAI had conducted an Open House Discussion on 14 March 2018.
Finally, on 3 August 2018, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released Recommendations on "Promoting Local Telecom Equipment Manufacturing".
Key features of recommendations:
The progress of indigenous telecommunication equipment manufacturing m the country should be monitored by Department of Telecommunications (DoT) at least at the level of Member, Telecom Commission. A dedicated unit in DoT should be made responsible for facilitation and monitoring of telecommunication equipment design, development, and manufacturing in the country.
India should aim to achieve the objective of 'net zero imports of telecommunication equipments' by 2022. For this purpose, Telecom Equipment Manufacturing Council (TEMC), should identify and recommend specific areas of priorities.
For promoting research, innovation, standardization, design, testing, certification and manufacturing indigenous telecom equipment, Telecom Research and Development Fund (TRDF), with initial corpus of `1000 Crore, should be created. Subsequently, setting up of Telecom Entrepreneurship Promotion Fund (TEPF) and Telecom Manufacturing Promotion Fund (TMPF) should also be considered.
A Telecommunication Equipment Development Board (TEDB) should be constituted in the DoT, under the Telecom '. Engineering-Centre (TEC), for faster and coordinated decisions relating to funding of and incentives for design, development, and manufacturing of telecommunication equipment in the country. It should be responsible for facilitating innovation, R&D (Research and Development), testing and certification, and manufacturing in the telecom sector in the country.
Universities/ technical institutes offering specialization in telecommunication technologies and system design should be setup / identified near the Telecom Products Development clusters.
Telecommunication Technology and Systems Design Labs should be setup in these Universities/ technical institutes in collaboration with Telecom Equipment Manufacturers and Telecom Service Providers.
Participation of indigenous research institutions, telecom service providers, and telecom equipment manufacturing companies in deliberations at international organizations should be encouraged.
Permissions for trials of new technologies and products and running pilot projects should be simplified.
Alternate Dispute Resolution Framework for time bound resolution of patent licensing disputes should be institutionalized in the country.
A common portal should be developed for self declaration of Standard Essential Patents (SEP) by the patent holders in the telecom products. The portal should have the facility for listing of registered telecom product design, manufacturing, marketing, and System Integration companies along with their designs/ products so that development of the complete ecosystem in the country can be facilitated.
To expand understanding about patent filing policies and procedures, the patent information cells should be created in leading Universities/ technical institutions to be identified for promoting research, innovation, and development of telecom technology and systems designs.
Telecom Engineering Centre should be made responsible for regulation and accreditation of telecom products testing and certification agencies in the country.
Mandatory testing and certification of the telecom equipments sector in the country should be started at the earliest.
To expedite setting up of testing and infrastructure facilities in the country, the Government should incentivize setting up of such facilities by private entities. These facilities should be accredited by the Telecom Engineering Centre.
All telecom products meant for use in the telecommunication network or by consumer and marketed in the country should be classified as either fully finished imported products or Indigenous products. Indigenous products should be further classified into Made in India Products, Designed In India Products or Designed and Made in India Products.
The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) should immediately review its PMA policy, issued in October 2012, so that the products specified under the Policy as well as the norms of the value addition specified in the Policy can be aligned with the present day's local market realities.
PMA policy should be made applicable for all public telecom networks to address the national security concerns.
Telecom Service Providers should be incentivized for deploying indigenous telecom products, beyond the quantities to be mandated under the PMA, by giving them graded incentives.
The recommendations were appreciated by the domestic telecom gear makers. However, global companies aren’t impressed. They believe the TRAI’s plan to push local manufacturing will not be feasible in absence of economies of scale and a supporting components ecosystem.
As per a global company executive: “If the government is serious about boosting indigenous telecom gear production, it needs to first incentivize component manufacturing in a big way in India so that the cost of locally churning out finished telecom products comes down.”
Sanjeev Kakkar, vice chairman, Telecom System Design and Manufacturing, said: “The TRAI recommendations to promote local telecom equipment manufacturing are a welcome move by the regulator. The aim to make India net zero importer of telecom equipment by 2022 is particularly noteworthy. It is now critical that these recommendations are implemented in true spirit for the benefit of the domestic manufacturers and thereby the country."
NK Goyal, Chairman Emeritus, the Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association of India (TEMA), said: "Of prime value is TRAI's suggestion that the local manufacturing be looked after at the level of a member in Telecom Commission. In fact, earlier Member Production was solely responsible for the promotion of local manufacturing. The TEMA requests that this post be filled up immediately."