The government of India has mandated local testing and certification of 5G smartphones from January 1, 2023 before they are sold in the country. Major Indian telcos such as Airtel, Jio, and Vi (Vodafone Idea) oppose this move, warning that this could result in a sharp fall in the availability of 5G smartphones for customers in India.
Moreover, the telecom operators have communicated to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) that this mandate would affect data consumption and restrict market access, thus keeping users from purchasing the latest 5G smartphones. The companies added that the government body’s requirement to test and certify 5G smartphones at accredited local labs would put a dampener on India’s goal of becoming a global hub for manufacturing smartphones.
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The Economic Times (ET) was able to get their hands on documents which revealed that DoT’s technical wing, the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) decided to “bring 5G mobile phones under phase-5 of the Mandatory Testing & Certification of Telecom Equipment (MTCTE) regime” and will be set into motion from next year in January. TEC had earlier called for mandatory local testing and certification of smartwatches, wearables, and smart cameras before being sold in India.
COAI Opposes Local Testing Mandate For 5G Smartphones
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) expressed their opposition to the move in a letter to telecom secretary K. Rajaraman:
We urge your intervention to instruct TEC to rescind the existing notifications covering all existing consumer electronic products under the MTCTE Certification regime and to desist in pursuing smartwatches, wearables, and smart cameras under Phase III and 5G mobile phones under the proposed Phase V of MTCTE.
The COAI represents top telecom operators such as Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi) as well as global tech companies such as Apple and Google, among others. The organisation has argued that “de-linking the consumer electronics industry from the TEC-MTCTE certification regime would smoothen the industry’s path for investment through the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, especially as India is poised to become a global leader in mobile handset manufacturing”.