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HFCL: Making Indian Infrastructure 5G-Ready With the launch of open-source Wi-Fi 7 Access Point, HFCL has become the first original equipment manufacturer in India to design and launch this Wi-Fi technology to complement the indoor 5G coverage

By Shrabona Ghosh

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The fifth generation of cellular networks, 5G, is ushering into our lives at the speed of light, and it is poised to transform industries and dramatically enhance day-to-day experiences. Futuristic services are now a possibility because of faster connectivity, ultra-low latency and greater bandwidth. However, all of these are only achievable when the network is supported by adequate telecom infrastructure.

According to a report by CRISIL Research, the telecom industry would require investment of INR 1.5-2.5 trillion in the next two-three years towards infrastructure development in order to facilitate the roll out of 5G services. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated 5G services in India at the India Mobile Congress 2022.

HFCL Ltd, a global technology company, delivering accessible data network solutions, has earmarked huge investments to meet the rapidly growing demand for 5G roll out in India. "We have launched our 5G lab-as-a-service to expedite the process of mandatory testing and certification of new 5G products. Under our in-house R&D, we are designing our own cell site routers, aggregation and centralized routers, switches for private and public networks," said Mahendra Nahata, managing director, HFCL.

The need for fiberization

Until June 2022, the level of fiberization in India was at 35.11 per cent against the ideal requirement of 70 per cent for the launch of 5G services. "Apart from the telecom operators availing the 5G spectrum, a solid investment in fiber backhaul capabilities has become equally important," said Nahata.

Recently, under state-led BharatNet programme, HFCL completed the broadband connectivity of all the gram panchayats in Jharkhand through optical fiber cable (OFC). "We are expecting that there would be a demand for nearly 60 million fiber km equivalent cable demand since the government is planning rural India connectivity," Nahata added.

The current global demand for OFC is 650 million fiber km equivalent cable. "Since over 95 per cent demand is witnessed in global markets and given the competitiveness of our portfolio in OFC, equipment and end-to-end network solutions, we aspire to cater to more markets and more customers."

Product innovation

The development of indigenous revolutionary technology products has positioned Indian companies in the forefront of global technology leadership. The 5G networks are slated to be introduced with a large number of smaller cells and new radio components. "This is where front-runners like us are proactively developing robust technology and products to meet the growing demand for the 5G infrastructure solutions for a seamless layout," said Nahata.

With the launch of open-source Wi-Fi 7 Access Point, HFCL has become the first OEM in India to design (based on its own IPR) and launch this Wi-Fi technology to complement the indoor 5G coverage. "It delivers extremely high throughput, higher spectral efficiency, better interference mitigation and real-time applications (RTA) support, generating a speed of more than 10 gbps."

In order to tap the widened landscape of opportunities in telecom industry and acceleration of 5G roll out in India, the tech company is also in the process of developing various 5G transport products, including cell site router, DU (distributed unit) aggregation routers, and CU (centralized unit) aggregation routers. "These products play a crucial role in the 5G infrastructure, enhance network densification and offer seamless 5G experience to the customers."

On export and revenue

Currently, HFCL's order book is over INR 5,000 crore, "We have been able to maintain a healthy outlook on the revenue, growth, order book along with sturdy collections."

With an aim to become the global technology hub for telecom and networking products, the MD believes it can be achieved through a continuous focus on manufacturing indigenous products. "Given our current focus on R&D and our commitment to develop locally-yet competitive products and solutions, we have been able to record healthy growth in our exports in every passing quarter. We have witnessed strong demand for our OFC as well telecom solutions in key global markets such as Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Our share of exports in revenues has improved to 16.38 per cent in Q2 FY23 as compared to 9.08 per cent in Q2 FY22. With this, we aim to double our exports from FY22 levels to INR 750 crore in FY23."

Shrabona Ghosh


A journalist with a cosmopolitan mindset. I lead a project called 'Corporate Innovations' wherein I cover corporates across verticals and try to tell stories on innovations. Apart from this, I write industry pieces on FMCGs, auto, aviation, 5G and defense. 
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