KOLKATA: Global smartphone makers will be able to speed up imports and their go-to-market strategies in India with the government clearing the air that such devices won’t require any import permits from the telecom department’s wireless planning cell (WPC).

Smartphones with built-in Bluetooth and WiFi features will be freely importable under DGFT (Director General of Foreign Trade) rules, DoT has said.

Separately, the department has also allowed global handset makers to import prototype test phones for running pre-launch field trials without a key WPC technical permit. This will particularly help global smartphone makers such as Apple and Huawei time their latest device launches in India in step with their global rollouts.

Pankaj Mohindroo, chairman of India Cellular & Electronics Association (ICEA), welcomed the government’s decision that mobile handsets will not require WPC import licences but be governed by DGFT import norms.

“DoT’s clarification has put at rest all confusion over whether mobile handset imports are covered under WPC import licensing conditions or not,” the ICEA chairman said in an official media statement.

Under DGFT-governed import conditions, a mobile handset, he said, “is a freely importable item, unlike in the case of other products such as radio broadcast transmitters, TV broadcast transmitters, instrument landing systems, radio remote control apparatus or communication jamming equipment”.

Mohindroo said there was “confusion in certain sections of the regulatory and compliance environment” about handsets being exempt from WPC licensing conditions under DGFT rules, which, in turn, had “thrown up fresh challenges for the handset industry and delayed clearance of import consignments”.

The ICEA chairman also welcomed DoT’s other clarification with regard to import of prototype test/demo phones without ETA (equipment type approval) certification, which, he said, “would enable international handset brands to launch their products in India in a predictable and timely manner”.

The ETA is a key technical permit issued by WPC relating to a prototype device’s power signal strength. Since such ETA clearances were often delayed by WPC, global smartphone makers were often unable to import such sample phones on time to run pre-launch field trials, which in turn, delayed the availability of their latest smartphone models in India.

Sector experts said the ETA exemption will particularly benefit global brands such as Apple and Huawei, who import completely-build units of a sizeable chunk of their top-end models. “They will now be able to bring the test phones into India easily and synchronise their India launch with global rollouts”.





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