The government is planning to bring a range of technology products used for fibre-based home broadband networks under an import licensing regime in a move to boost local manufacturing of telecom gear while reducing dependency on imports.

However, industry experts have warned that the move would render home broadband service more expensive, while degrading their overall quality and distorting supply chain challenges, which could disrupt the expansion/rollout of fibre-based home broadband networks by telcos like Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel.

Meanwhile, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is currently underway examining a proposal to usher in a licensing regime for the import of key telecom finished products like gigabit passive optical network (GPON) optical line terminal/optical network terminal (OLT/ONT) systems, Wi-Fi access points, ethernet switches and wireless radio links.

Once the proposal is approved, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) will implement an import licensing regime that will mandate telecom companies to request for relevant permits and seek prior approvals from the government for importing such network gear.

Further, experts added that the latest proposal is aimed towards promoting domestic manufacturing by making the required finished goods imports more expensive and driving more participation in the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for telecom network equipment. However, considering that bulk of these devices are imported, it might not be possible to develop world class local manufacturing capabilities/capacities overnight, which added with the import licensing regime could possibly create global supply-chain bottlenecks hence slowing down the expansion of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) networks.