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Shourie rolls out welcome mat for handset makers

New Delhi, Nov. 1: Communications minister Arun Shourie today urged the telecom handset manufacturers to set up base in India as the volumes are expected to increase with the unified licence regime in place.

The minister also urged the local companies to focus more on developing India as a manufacturing hub for the Asia Pacific, particularly to exploit the software potential for telecom handset and billing that is available in India.

Speaking at the release of commemorative postage stamp on 150 years of Indian Telecommunications, Shourie said, “We will soon become a viable market for manufacturing in India, since volume will increase with implementation of unified licence.

Companies like Nokia that have been waiting for volumes to increase can now set up manufacturing base here.”

“The Indian entrepreneurs have the capability to replicate the revolution in all other major sectors. It should be taken up in the same way as software sector has been exploited,” said Shourie.

The telecom handset manufacturers like Motorola, Siemens and Nokia have received cash-and-carry licences from the government which allows them to sell handsets through dealers in India.

This allows them to source their handsets from manufacturing bases that they have set up in China and other parts of South East Asia and sell them in India through dealers.

That is a clear indication that they do not intend to set up manufacturing bases in India. It remains to be seen whether they can be persuaded to reconsider that decision now that a market opportunity is opening up in India.

Narendra Kumar Goyal, president, Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association of India, says, “The unification of telecom licences means that the demand for telecom equipment will increase manifold. The government is already committed under National Telecom Policy (NTP) 1999 to promote equipment manufacturing in India.

The minister is already taking keen interest in development of this industry and various steps are in the pipe line in this behalf.”

“India offers market potential almost comparable to China and it is time that various foreign equipment manufactures establish their manufacturing facilities in India.

“Currently, about 1.5 million handsets are being sold in India per month. This will jump substantially now,” added Goyal.

Shourie today released a commemorative postage stamp on 150 years of Telecommunications in India issued by the Department of Posts (DoP). The stamp costs Rs 5.

Starting as an experiment with an electric telegraph line between Calcutta and Diamond Harbour in 1850, telecom services were formally launched in November 1853 connecting Calcutta and Peshawar, Bombay and Madras and Ootacamund and Bangalore.

Shourie pointed that August 1875 saw India’s first private line in Mumbai. The London-based Oriental Telephone and Electric Company Limited was licensed in 1881 to set up telephone exchanges at Mumbai, Calcutta, and Madras.

Further expansion came with Radio Telegraph (1927), Radio Telephone (1933) and the use of trunk lines for broadcasting programmes (1937).

In 1950, isolated exchanges and those belonging to princely states were absorbed into the state-run system.

A decade later, the subscriber trunk dialling system was introduced between Kanpur and Lucknow.

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