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NEW DELHI: HFCL Limited, formerly known as Himachal Futuristic Communications has supplied indigenously designed, developed, and manufactured 100,000 Wi-Fi systems in a record time, and believes that Wi-Fi Access Network Interface or WANI together with the Centre’s ambitious BharatNet initiative would augment broadband uptake in rural India. 

“We have developed a carrier-grade Wi-Fi system. It is totally 100% indigenous R&D including hardware and software. Within a few months, we have already supplied 1 lakh units of Wi-Fi products in 2020,” Mahendra Nahata, managing director, HFCL told ETTelecom.  The homegrown company, that has an order book of Rs 7,500 crore has supplied Wi-Fi gear to private players and is also eyeing to further ship the new made-in-India product worldwide.  Last May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Atmanirbhar Bharat or self-reliant India campaign to impel the domestic industry in order to cut dependence on imports following the contagious Covid-19-induced shutdown.

 “If BharatNet and WANI put together, it will usher into a good amount of broadband in the villages,” Nahata said and anticipating the spike in demand, he added that the indigenous vendors would benefit in line with the government’s ambition.  Last month, the Cabinet has approved the Prime Minister’s Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM-WANI) scheme aimed to improve wireless connectivity by way of offering free wireless Internet in public places across the country, as a part of the Digital India program.  The scheme, originally conceived by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) headed by Ram Sewak Sharma, would allow any individual or retailer to set up public Wi-Fi hotspot and deliver seamless data services and propel new employment opportunities.  “We have already designed Wi-Fi 6. It is already under testing by operators. We are also in the process of designing equipment for the Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH),” the promoter said.  The Delhi-based company is expecting a substantial quantum of orders once the WANI program kicks off. 

“Overall, our company’s order book is around Rs 7,500 crore at present and more orders are in the pipeline,” Nahata said and added that it has a capacity to manufacture 19-20 million optic fibre cable (OFC) kilometres (fkm) annually.  The digital infrastructure provider, which is among the top two fibre makers in the country claimed to be the largest producer of the FTTH cable, and is exporting to as many as 30 countries.  HFCL, according to Nahata, is also in the process of designing FTTH-related optical networks, and is seeing a robust demand on the back of upcoming 5G networks deployment, and the government-backed BharatNet program.  Following the growing demand for FTTH and the 5G implementation worldwide, the Indian company is also planning to increase its FTTH cables production capacity by a third at its Hyderabad facility by March this year. 

“I think, the cable business will have a good future for the next few years given the international thrust on 5G and FTTH, and in India, Wi-Fi projects like BharatNet and WANI,” the top executive said, adding that Modi’s 1000-day campaign to connect 600,000 villages digitally would further boost the industry.  "