The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is reportedly evaluating around 440 proposals worth over Rs 10 billion for funding under the Telecom Technology Development Fund (TTDF) Scheme. The evaluation is being carried out on the basis of parameters such as the technical feasibility of the solutions proposed, market size and impact on the target segment of consumers, potential for import substitution, originality and national importance, go-to-market plan, and team expertise.

The TTDF Scheme was released on October 1, 2022, to support rural-specific communication applications and promote technology ownership, indigenous manufacturing, and the creation of intellectual property for telecom products and solutions. According to industry sources, the government has so far disbursed Rs 3 billion to about 400 companies under the scheme. These companies are working to develop technologies for 5G, 6G, backhaul radio, consumer premise equipment (CPE) for mobile and satellite communication, telecom network cyber security, and routers, among other segments.

In the latest set of applications under TTDF, DoT invited proposals for the development of chipsets used in telecom equipment. The government’s plan is to initially focus on six types of chipsets for telecom network equipment and end consumer equipment. This includes chips for next-generation broadband CPE, 5G modem and radio chips for dongles, chips for internet of things (IoT) products, satellite communication equipment, and digital signal processors for 5G infrastructure, etc. The deadline for application was set at October 15, 2023.

With regard to the budgetary outlay, 5 per cent of annual collections from the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), which is about Rs 5 billion, is allotted for the TTDF Scheme. As per the scheme, domestic companies, start-ups, academic institutions, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) which are working on telecom technologies can avail the benefits.

The government is also looking to increase the allocation of funds to the TTDF Scheme from the USOF, to support more quality proposals as well as to expedite indigenisation of telecom products and solutions.