New Delhi, Jun 9 (PTI) There is a need to promote research and development led telecom equipment manufacturing instead of just assembly-based production, a senior official of the Department of Telecom said on Wednesday.

DoT Member (Technology) T K Paul said as per a WTO report on global supply chain, India's contribution is only 0.15 per cent in telecom equipment and 0.068 per cent for integrated circuits and components.

This calls for design-driven manufacturing for 'Aatmabnirbharta' (self-reliance) in the telecom sector, he noted.

"Way forward is design-led manufacturing by leveraging indigenous software. R&D capabilities should be promoted instead of just assembly led manufacturing," Paul said at a Broadband India Forum event on telecom manufacturing.

Paul's comment comes at a time when the DoT has announced guidelines for the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for telecom sector in which R&D investments have been capped at 15 per cent for calculating the incentives of eligible companies.

The DoT has started inviting applications from foreign, domestic and MSME firms under the telecom PLI scheme.

Paul further said the absence of fabrication and components ecosystem has left India dependent on other countries.

"Presently 85 per cent of the country's demand for telecom equipment is met through imports. COVID-19 pandemic has affected the global supply chain badly.

"This has resulted in the cost of devices going up because of raised demand in comparison to supply. This is the right time for us to take the lead and fulfil the domestic requirement," Paul said.

He also said the pandemic has resulted in digital transformation of daily life and business operations.

"Self-sufficiency in telecom manufacturing is the need of the hour," Paul added.

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