How prepared is the mobile device ecosystem for the 5G technology, which is expected to be rolled out by next year? Will we again see the stutters that we had seen at the time of 4G? Will the prices come down in the sub-Rs 10,000 handset segment? When will India’s semiconductor chip shortage end? And is India ready to have its own fab ecosystem? Qualcomm VP and President for India and SAARC, Rajen Vagadia, answered all these questions in an exclusive interview with Business Standard’s Surajeet Das Gupta. Highlights of the Q&A:
How prepared is the mobile device ecosystem for 5G technology?
• Two advantages this time: Aggressive trials, enough time to build ecosystem
• Despite pandemic, first 5G device launched in India in March last year
• Even before commercial 5G rollout, there will be healthy 5G ecosystem
Do you see prices coming down in the sub-Rs 10,000 handset segment?
• OEMs to decide how to bring the prices down
• We have made affordable platforms available to them
• Such price points coming about soon not unthinkable
What’s your plan to support the startups in your space?
• Role far greater than investing in startups
• We provide them access to engineering, labs
How many Indian startups have you invested in?
• Incubated 77, not invested in all of them
• Invested in over 20 companies in India
• The number keeps changing as we exit some
By when do you think the chip shortage facing India will be over?
• Shortage because of sudden demand surge after pandemic
• Demand-supply situation to improve somewhat by early 2022
• Some industries like automobile may be plagued for longer
Is India prepared to have its own semiconductor fab ecosystem?
• Yes and No. Opportunities are huge
• Fab is not just one activity – there’s a lot before and after fab
• A lot of stringent infrastructure requirement needs to be met