The union government has issued a third deadline extension for applications for production-linked incentive (PLI) for design-led manufacturing in telecom and networking products. Announced as an extension to the government's ₹12,195 crore PLI scheme for the telecom sector announced on February 24, 2021, companies can now apply for design-led manufacturing incentives by August 25.
The clause of PLI for design-led manufacturing in telecom and networking devices was added to the scheme on June 20. As part of the offering, eligible applicants have a minimum investment threshold of ₹10 crore for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and ₹100 crore for non-MSME applicants. MSMEs are allocated ₹2,500 crore as part of the total PLI benefits in the telecom sector.
The move seeks to build a local ecosystem for telecom and networking products in India, reducing the country's dependence on the global supply chain for networking products.
The move comes as India concluded its 5G spectrum auction, with total bids of ₹1.5 lakh crore from telecom operators including Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and new entrant Adani Data Network. According to union minister for railways, communications, and electronics and information technology (IT), Ashwini Vaishnaw, 5G deployments across India will begin by October this year, with a wider, pan-India rollout expected next year.
On Wednesday, Bharti Airtel announced extensions to its existing partnerships with network hardware providers Ericsson and Nokia, and signed a new partnership with Samsung, for 5G deployment in India. A spokesperson for the telco said in a statement that its 5G deployments in India will begin as early as this month itself.
Earlier this week, industry analysts told Mint that the upcoming 5G services could boost India's slump in smartphone shipments, if telcos offered competitively priced 5G network services. A report by Counterpoint Research further added that India already has over 50 million users with 5G-compatible devices in the country, which experts said could reach close to 90 million this year.
A further 100 million 5G devices are expected to be sold in India in 2023, based on the demand for 5G services among consumers and device makers shipping more 5G-compatible phones in the country.