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OnePlus begins pilot exports of 5G phones from India.


Date: 07-12-2019
Subject: OnePlus begins pilot exports of 5G phones from India
NEW DELHI: Chinese firm One-Plus, the leading premium smartphone maker in India, has started exporting 5G smartphones on a pilot basis from the country, a development that aids India’s initiatives to boost local production and exports. This comes at a time when India is lagging many other competitors in deploying the next generation technology.

OnePlus, which is among the first off the block in launching 5G devices in global markets, is also testing 5G capabilities for carriers in the US and Europe, besides Indian carriers, at its research and development centre in Hyderabad.

“India is fast emerging as a regional HQ for OnePlus’ expansion into global markets within five years,” said Vikas Agarwal, head of operations in India for OnePlus. “As part of the business focus in India for the coming years, OnePlus is building India as a global export hub for the brand and is already manufacturing 5G devices and exporting to overseas markets, such as North America.”

The company has co-invested with Chinese rival Oppo to set up manufacturing facilities in Noida to make 5G devices.

Both the smartphone makers are part of China’s BBK Electronics group.

“We are currently sharing some common investments with Oppo on the manufacturing front,” said Agarwal.

Oppo, which also makes 4G devices for OnePlus, declined to comment.

India is still far off from commercial 5G deployments, with 5G trials yet to begin and spectrum yet to be auctioned. In a recent report, Swedish equipment maker Ericsson said that 5G subscriptions in India will be available only in 2022, against its previous estimate of 2020. India’s telecom industry body COAI doesn’t expect commercial 5G roll-outs for another five years at least, due to exorbitant base prices, insufficient spectrum and unavailability of newer bands.

In contrast, leading communications service providers in Asia, Australia, Europe, West Asia and North America switched on their 5G networks earlier this year. South Korea has already seen a big 5G uptake since its April 2019 launch. China’s launch of 5G in late October led to an update of the estimated 5G subscriptions for year-end 2019 to 13 million from 10 million.

Faisal Kawoosa, co-founder at research firm TechArc, said that OnePlus’ move to make 5G devices in India and export them – following Nokia’s move to make 5G gear and export from India – was happening at an appropriate time in global 5G ecosystem. “This reinforces the commitment of a brand like OnePlus as to how important India is as a destination on their global map of operations, and not just any end user market,” he said.

OnePlus, which leads the premium segment in India with 35% share as of September, considers India a crucial market for testing of future technologies, including 5G, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

On the 5G front, the company has set up a 5G simulator in its research and development centre in Hyderabad, where it is also exploring 5G enabled cloud computing solutions.

“We are also running test trials with leading ecosystem players and network partners including Airtel and Reliance Jio, and actively investing in building 5G network simulators at the Indian R&D centre as part of these testing initiatives,” said Ramagopal Reddy, vice president, R&D Centre at OnePlus.

The centre is also building 5G specific product customisations, not just for Indian devices but also for other markets, such as North America and Europe.

Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

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