Indian Deep Tech firms team up to take on giants in 5G gear supply

Ayushi Kar | | Updated on: Aug 09, 2022

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Industry-watchers sceptical as biggies stay away from becoming members of VoICE consortium

A group of 60 indigenous companies have forged an alliance under the banner of VoICE — Voice of Indian Communication Technology Enterprises — in a bid to bag telecommunications contracts from telecom operators and government agencies, who will be undertaking capex in the much-awaited 5G rollout.

This consortium aims to take on global vendors such as Nokia and Erricson and provide “Made in India” solutions for telecommunications use cases in 4G and 5G to a variety of players. 

VoICE comprises Indian registered companies looking to provide design-led solutions covering 4G, 5G, Internet of Things and Machine to Machine use cases based on Indian IPR. Many new start-ups are also a part of this consortium. 

Led by former Advisor of Technology for the Department of Telecommunication, Rakesh Kumar Bhatnagar, this consortium is purportedly the first and only society for Indian deeptech and communication technology companies. This consortium aims to provide a single platform for end to end telecommunication eco system covering all aspects of the network. 

The consortium was created in January this year, around the same time the industry was reckoning a new wave of regulations for the next generation of technologies in the communications space.

Speaking with BusinessLine at the ITU Regional Standardization Forum on Monday, Bhatnagar noted that the consortium plans on taking advantage of the government allowing entry of enterprises into the private networks space to provide a whole slew of private LTE solutions for organisations such as the Indian Railways, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Defence, public sector telco BSNL, etc. 

While the consortium wants to approach private telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel, Jio, and Vodafone Idea with their end-to-end network solutions, right now, the industry body is looking to bag pilot projects with the government to fund R&D, improve the turnover of member-companies and develop the enterprise ecosystem overall. 

Bhatnagar told BusinessLine that many companies that are part of VoICE expect to bag pilot studies and implement private LTE 4G and 5G solutions for various government organisations.

While the consortium has prominent members such as the Indian government-owned technology development centre CDOT, along with entities such as Saankhya Labs, Tejas Networks, STL, etc, some of the most prominent players such as Tata-backed TCS and Reliance Jio have not joined the body. 

Therefore, experts remain doubtful regarding whether this consortium will be able to take on more established global vendors. “Only time will tell whether the hype is real and whether this body will be able to bag substantial contracts from telcos and the government alike,” an expert told BusinessLine on condition of anonymity.

Published on August 09, 2022
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