Telecom regulator TRAI on Monday strongly advocated domestic manufacturing of telecom equipment and “digital sovereignty”, as it stressed on the importance of providing opportunities for local players in the sector and called for sharp focus on digital infrastructure investments.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma said government policies relating to electronics and local handset manufacturing have “paid rich dividends”, and added that more needs to be done, particularly to push domestic manufacturing of telecom equipment and ensure value addition.

He warned against dumping strategies resorted by countries to kill domestic industry before raising prices, and added that such “tactics” need to be countered with preferential market access policy.

“Ultimately countries have strategies where they actually dump things and they try to kill the domestic industry and then they raise the prices…essentially we need to realise this tactics and we need to appropriately give preferential market access policy which has been there…need to ensure we implement them”, he said.

Addressing a PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) webinar on ‘Telecom sector in COVID-19’, the TRAI chief stressed on the need to promote domestic manufacturers of hardware, signalling equipment, fibre and other equipment.

Clear targets need to be set on how to proceed in this sector, he asserted, adding that telecom being a “sensitive sector” makes it imperative for India to become sovereign in terms of information security.

“The National Digital Communication Policy of 2018, where TRAI had given lot of inputs, we have three areas…one is connecting India, second having software and services on top of that, and third digital sovereignty, and therefore domestic manufacturing of telecom equipment must take place…that has not happened,” he said.

Mr. Sharma noted that while the country had performed well on software front, building strong and unmatched platforms for digital identity and digital payments, there is a need to ensure flow of investments into digital infrastructure in the country.

“I agree, that unless we provide opportunities for our own domestic players, we will not go anywhere,” he said.

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