Another member of the High-Tech Defence Innovation Forum – Vihaan Networks Ltd., (VNL) – has won prestigious awards that make us Indians proud and revive hope in indigenous innovation. VNL won the Bronze Award in the Wall Street Journal 2009 Technology Innovation Awards, as well as the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneer Award in 2010 – for inventing a solar-powered telecom network for cellphone access ideally suited for rural areas. This may also be classified as frugal innovation at work.
This and similar indigenous technologies can solve India’s rural connectivity issues.
The equipment can be assembled by anyone and VNL’s technology was certified by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), set up to subsidise rural communications and other worthy socio-economic goals.
In fact, with an available balance of around Rs. 30, 116 crores, the USOF should be used more aggressively to spur a telecom manufacturing revolution in India, which should also receive a fillip under the New Electronics Policy. The need for indigenous telecom equipment and standards for national security reasons is obvious and the USOF can be used to fund a vast increase in indigenous R & D and thereon high-tech, manufacturing capacity, several decades after C-DOT’s initial successes. Unfortunately the link leading to DOT’s page is not functioning- here – check it out for yourself. Completely dead or comatose.
And, service providers should be obligated to invest in R & D and manufacturing capacity to create a market for the product. But the Government can start by first using the USOF to create an indigenous telecom sector. Employment, R & D generation, national security, all this can be achieved with one stroke.