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India has proven its capabilities with its native 4G/5G technology stack that is “ready now” and the country is poised to become a major exporter of telecoms technology to the world over the next three years, Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Saturday. At the Economic Times Global Business Summit 2023, Vaishnaw, who is also Minister for Railways, said categorically that there is no program to privatize the national transport company.

The 5G services launched on October 1, 2022 and rolled out to over 200 cities within 100 days. The sheer speed of rollout has been appreciated by industry leaders worldwide and is described in many international forums as the “fastest deployment anywhere in the world,” he said.

Vaishnaw highlighted the population-wide solutions being tested on the India Stack across platforms such as payments, healthcare and identity. Each of these platforms is powerful on its own, but together they become a dynamic force capable of solving “any great problem in the world.”

The minister said India will become a global exporter of telecommunications technology in the next three years.

“Today there are two Indian companies exporting to the world…telecom equipment. In the next three years, we will see India as one of the largest exporters of telecommunications technology in the world,” Vaishnaw said.

The minister spoke of India’s rapid progress in developing its own 4G and 5G technology stack, an achievement that caught the world’s attention.

“The stack is now complete. It was first tested for 1 million concurrent calls, then 5 million, and now it’s been tested for 10 million concurrent calls,” he said, calling it a “phenomenal success.”

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At least 9-10 countries want to try it, he added.

The minister made a presentation outlining the main initiatives of his three ministries of telecoms, IT and railways.

For Railways, the focus is on transforming the passenger experience, he said as he presented slides on how Railways is transforming train stations and terminals (New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kanpur, Jaipur, among others) with modern and futuristic design blueprints, creating new urban spaces in the process while preserving the rich heritage.

The minister also gave an overview of the Vande Bharat train, the Kavach indigenous train control system and the progress of the high-speed train project.

When asked about past talks on private freight rail corridors to logistics, the minister said: “There is no rail privatization program”.

“In a country where we have 1. billion people, 8 billion people who move by rail every year, we thought it wise to learn from the experiences of others and keep them within the structure of government” , said Vaishnaw.

Answering another question about a dedicated food grain freight corridor, the minister explained that in terms of transport economics, it is important not to split assets between different applications.

“Today the thought process is very refined and we add nearly 4500km of network each year, which equates to 12km of new track per day. So we need to increase capacity as much as there is capacity for grain, enough for coal, small packages and any kind of cargo,” he said.

While Railways has lost market share over the past 50-60 years, it has begun to regain it.

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“The lowest point was 27 percent. I am pleased to report that the railways have increased from 27 percent last year to 28 percent, this year will reach almost 29 to 29.5 percent and in the coming 2- three years Railways will grow to a market share of percent,” he said.

People will choose between road, rail or air transport depending on the distance, and “there will be for everyone”. “The country will have enough for everyone is my point. Up to 250 kilometers of road is very good, 250 to 1000 kilometers of rail is the ideal means of transport. Over 1000 kilometers, air will be the ideal means of transport. So there will be enough for everyone,” the minister said.

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By Rebecca French

Rebecca French writes books about Technology and smartwatches. Her books have received starred reviews in Technology Shout, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist. She is a New York Times and a USA Today Bestseller...