Israeli phone firms eye Indian telecom market

By SiliconIndia   |   Thursday, 30 October 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: Israel's export-oriented telecom equipment sector is aiming to increase its presence in India's booming telecom market to offset slowing demand from its main U.S. market, said an industry official.

Israel, already India's second-largest supplier of defence equipment, already exports $100 million worth of telecoms gear and application software to the underpenetrated domestic phones sector, one of the fastest growing markets globally.

"We estimate telecom equipment exports to India will grow at 35 percent this year," Moran Ben Yair, an official at Israel's Export and International Cooperation Institute, told Reuters on the sidelines of a business event.

India's flourishing mobile sector with 25 million users is a huge market for Israel, which with just 5.5 million users has been looking outwards for growth in recent years.

Telecom exports already account for 87 percent of total sales in Israel's telecom industry that stood at $2.93 billion in 2002.

Earlier, a large chunk of Israel's telecoms gear sales were aimed at the U.S. and European markets, but a global slowdown in the sector has forced the country to focus on high growth Asian markets instead.

"India is one of the target countries because of its huge population and considerably low deployment of cellular infrastructure," Yair said, adding China, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines were also on Israel's telecoms radar.

Israeli firms such as ECI Telecom Ltd sell equipment to Indian fixed-line companies such as state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, the country's largest telecoms firm by sales.

Yair said Israeli companies were also focusing their energies on selling software applications to the Indian cellular sector.

Nearly all global telecoms gear makers like Nortel Networks Corp, Alcatel, Lucent Technologies Inc and Nokia have a strong presence in the Indian telecoms sector which is expected to have more than 70 million phones by next March.

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