TRAI to set local sourcing rules for telcos

Concerned over India’s galloping electronics import bill, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India will recommend a phased introduction of ‘local sourcing’ rules of telecom operators in a week.

The TRAI chairman JS Sarma said most of the final details on the recommendations, has been arrived at and the recommendations will be put out next week.

“The kind of local manufacturing that happens in telecom in India is of very low level,” Sarma said, pointing to the wires and landline instruments and connectors that are manufactured in the country, both by Indian units and foreign companies.

In comparison, almost no mobile network equipment, such as base stations and antennae are built here and are mostly imported from China.

According to Sarma, by value, Indian manufactures account for only 10-20% of the total equipment (including handsets) consumed in the country.

“This is a low share. We want to increase it by setting progressive targets for sourcing in the coming years,” he said.

According to him, the recommendations will lay down targets for 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2020 — to be met by all operators in India.

Telecom equipment sourcing is a sensitive issue in the country, with the Home ministry repeatedly flagging its displeasure over the reliance on foreign, particularly Chinese vendors, by Indian firms.

Nokia, however, makes a large part of its low and mid range phones in India at its Chennai plant.

Sarma also said that the Authority’s final ‘Green Telecom’ recommendations will be ready in two weeks and shall be sent to the government.

The recommendations are likely to envision the setting up of an Emissions monitoring and standards framework for telecom operators to force them to cut down on widespread Diesel use.

It is estimated that more than 60% of India’s diesel gensets are used by telecom operators, who burn billions of litres of diesel every year to power their far flung towers.