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Global hand­set mak­ers such as Ap­ple will soon be able launch their lat­est smart­phones in In­dia in sync with their global launch, thanks to a govern­ment move to speed up ap­provals to im­port pro­to­type test phones to run pre-launch field tri­als in the coun­try. Cur­rently, tele­com de­part­ment’s wire­less plan­ning cell (WPC) of­ten takes sev­eral months to is­sue per­mits for the im­port of pro­to­type mo­bile de­vices to con­duct pre-launch field tri­als on In­dian phone net­works. Now, the govern­ment plans to fully au­to­mate the op­er­a­tions of WPC, a per­son with di­rect knowl­edge of the devel­op­ment. A top-level de­part­ment of tele­com (DoT) meet­ing on Mon­day will ex­plore ways to in­tro­duce on­line pro­cess­ing of ap­pli­ca­tions to pave the way for faster WPC clear­ances, be it for im­port­ing mo­bile test phones or net­work gear. Se­nior ex­ec­u­tives rep­re­sent­ing top global hand­set mak­ers as well as big mo­bile ser­vice providers will par­tic­i­pate in the meet­ing to be chaired by DoT mem­ber (tech­nol­ogy) Prabash Singh, the per­son said. If ap­proved, such an ex­er­cise would par­tic­u­larly help global smart­phone mak­ers such as Ap­ple and Huawei, which im­port com­pletely-built units of a size­able chunk of their top-end mod­els, launch their lat­est mod­els in the coun­try early and check grey mar­ket sales. China’s Huawei said steps like the pos­si­ble speed­ing up WPC clear­ances for im­port­ing test phones would en­able the com­pany to pro­vide bet­ter cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence at par with the rest of the world. “Huawei has been com­mit­ted to nar­row the gap be­tween its global (smart­phone) launches, and a tes­ti­mony to this is our re­cent launches of the P20 and Nova 3 se­ries in In­dia,” a com­pany spokesman said in a writ­ten re­sponse to ET’s queries. Ap­ple did not re­spond to ET’s re­quests for com­ment as of press time Sun­day. “Timely avail­abil­ity of pro­to­type test phones is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal for con­duct­ing pre-launch field tri­als to check if a new 4G smart­phone will run smoothly on In­dian tele­com net­works be­fore it is launched com­mer­cially,” Pankaj Mo­hin­droo, chair­man at In­dia Cel­lu­lar & Elec­tron­ics As­so­ci­a­tion (ICEA). He said de­layed WPC ap­provals hold up pre-launch test­ing of lat­est smart­phones that are not made in In­dia, which leads to de­lay in their com­mer­cial avail­abil­ity in the coun­try. “Worse, if these new smart­phones have got launched in other ma­jor in­ter­na­tional mar­kets such as the US or Europe and are not of­fi­cially avail­able in In­dia, they could po­ten­tially en­ter the coun­try through the grey mar­ket route and deprive the govern­ment of pre­cious rev­enue by way of im­port du­ties and GST,” said Mo­hin­droo. A hand­set in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tive, who did not wish to be named, said untested mo­bile de­vices en­ter­ing through the grey mar­ket route could cause net­work tur­bu­lence, spoil­ing

Pankaj Mo­hin­droo, Chair­man at In­dia Cel­lu­lar & Elec­tron­ics As­so­ci­a­tion (ICEA)

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