KOLKATA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on the telecom industry to “work together” to ensure timely rollout of 5G services in India and added that the country would deploy mobile technology to drive its massive vaccination programme.

He also called on the telecom sector to strive towards making India a global hub for network gear design, development and manufacturing.

“We need to work together to ensure a timely roll-out of 5G to leapfrog into the future and empower millions of Indians,” Modi said at the India Mobile Congress virtual event on Tuesday.

The government though is yet to clear the air on the timing of India’s much-awaited 5G spectrum sale or even 5G trials.

The Prime Minister said mobile technology was at the heart of the government being able to transfer billions of dollars to millions of Indians, help the poor and the needy during the pandemic, and facilitating billions of cashless transactions which boost transparency.

“It’s with mobile technology that we will also embark on one of the world’s largest vaccination drives,” Modi said.

Last week, the prime minister said the coronavirus vaccine would be ready in just a few weeks and the country’s vaccination programme would begin as soon as the scientists give a go-ahead.

Modi also called on the sector to leverage the near ₹12,200 crore of sops recently approved by the government under the production-linked incentive (PLI) policy aimed at boosting telecom equipment manufacturing for the local and overseas market.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi asks telecom industry to unite for timely rollout of 5G

“We have come up with the PLI scheme to promote telecom equipment manufacturing… let’s work together to make India a global hub for telecom equipment, design, development and manufacturing,” the PM said.

Last month, the Cabinet cleared the PLI policy for telecom gear that is slated to result in ₹2 lakh-crore of production over the next five years, and also speed up India’s emergence as a global 5G gear manufacturing hub, boost network gear exports and create a robust components ecosystem.

Speaking at the event, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government, on its part, is using the PLI scheme “to encourage global companies to make India the base for production of telecom gear and also encourage Indian companies to indigenously develop telecom products”.

The PM, in turn, said India was among the fastest-growing mobile app markets in the world, noting that mobile apps that were only a few years old were rapidly surpassing the value of companies present for decades. “This is a good sign for India and our young innovators, who are working on products having the potential to go global.” Modi, in fact, urged the country’s young techies to keep faith in the potential of their products. “What matters the most is the conviction youngsters have in their products, which is what stands between just a profitable exit and the making of a unicorn,” he said.

The PM also underlined the government’s resolve to boost countrywide internet penetration via the wired broadband route, and called on the telecom industry to boost proliferation of WiFi hotspots.

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