ITI Limited has been a major player in the government’s flagship programmes for digitally transforming India. The company has manufactured, supplied and set up more than 50 per cent of the fixed line network in the country, providing switching, transmission and access. It has set up 2G, 2.5G and 3G networks in the west and south zones of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), and GSM and CDMA networks for more than 25 million lines. It has also set up a satellite network for BSNL.

In recent times, the company has been instrumental in building a secure communications network for the defence forces. It has already successfully executed Phases I, II and III of ASCON projects, and has secured a contract for the implementation of Phase IV in 2020. It has also been involved in the Network for Spectrum project for the defence sector, particularly in laying the optic fibre cable (OFC) network in the northern and eastern parts of India.

ITI has also been involved in the implementation of BharatNet Phases I and II. Under Phase I, it has set up an optical backbone network in around 50,000 gram panchayats, and supplied, installed and commissioned GPON OLTs, ONTs and solar panels. Meanwhile, under Phase II, it is executing projects in Gujarat (GujNet) and Maharashtra (MahaNet). Under GujNet, 17,600 km of OFC (96F/48F) is being laid to connect 4,200 gram panchayats (GPs) spread over 12 districts and 70 talukas. The OFC is being laid with 70 dense wavelength division multiplexing nodes. Meanwhile, under MahaNet, 39,000 km of OFC is being laid to cover 12,740 GPs. The work involves setting up of routers in all GPs, at the block and the NoC level.

Infrastructure and facilities

ITI currently has six manufacturing plants with product lines for OFC, HDPE, solar panels, smart cards and micro PCs. The company also runs a Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology-approved cloud-based Tier 3 data centre, spread across a 120,000 square feet.

It also has a 1,000-seater facility, which can house both software and hardware start-ups focused on the Made in India campaign. Further, the company has four telecom testing labs – an EMI/ EMC lab, a safety lab, an SAR lab and a telecom security test lab.

Focus on next-generation network of 4G/5G

ITI is planning to build an indigenous  stack/platform for emerging technologies such as 4G and 5G. To this end, it has entered into an MoU with Tech Mahindra and TCS, among others. ITI proposes to manufacture 4G RANs, and is also in talks with companies for the manufacturing of 5G products.

Future drivers of telecom infrastructure

5G: 5G is the next technology frontier in the telecom sector. In India, 5G has to co-exist with 4G for affordability. The technology launch will develop opportunities for tower sharing companies. Some of the key use cases of 5G in India are as follows:

  • Surge in demand for data owing to the Covid crisis
  • Quality of service improvements in existing technologies
  • E-commerce
  • Virtual reality and augmented reality
  • B2X including automobile as well as connected cars

IoT: The government is planning to develop 100 smart city projects and internet of things (IoT) will play a vital role in the development of those cities. In addition, there is accelerated adoption of IoT in industries, especially manufacturing, automobiles, airports and the supply chain. Other areas of IoT adoption are smart homes, smart health, smart water, smart education, smart agriculture, smart grids, intelligent transport, wearables, smart energy, industry automation and connected cars. ITI is already exploring this opportunity by establishing manufacturing lines for smart energy meters, toilet feedback platforms under smart cities, smart post kiosks and smart parcel delivery systems.

Untapped rural market: The rural subscriber base accounted for 43.36 per cent of the total subscriber base in 2020-21 (till December 2020), thereby accelerating growth across the sector. The government has promised broadband access in all villages by 2022. It has also launched the National Broadband Mission, which involves laying of 3 million route km of incremental OFC and increase in tower density from 0.42 to 1 tower per 1,000 people by 2024.

The way forward

Going forward, various schemes and incentives by the government, such as Make in India, Start-up India, Digital India and Atmanirbhar Bharat will continue to create more opportunities for ITI. In the telecom sector, in particular, the recent production-linked incentive scheme will be very beneficial. s

Based on a presentation by Venkateswarlu, Director, Production, ITI Limited