In Chennai city of India’s south, a team of 50 engineers has been working in stealth mode for last eights years to come up with India’s first home-made 4G LTE modem. This was announced by none other than veteran entrepreneur and founder of Zoho Corp, a Saas company and perhaps the only billion-dollar startup in India without any outside funding.
The team was funded by Zoho Corp and will soon come out on more this India’s 1st ingenuously developed LTE chipset.
With this long-time secret project, Zoho backed team would potentially take on global chipset makers such as Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung and Huawei, among others.
Long-Term Evolution (LTE) is a 4G mobile communications standard, whose users get data speeds that are up to 10 times faster than 3G network.
Speaking at an event about “Business Visionaries Series” in Chennai last week, Vembu stressed on the importance of this project by asserting that India must have its own LTE chip in the interest of national security.
He added that, “US CEOs buy private jets. My jet is developing India’s first LTE Chip for our national security. Far more satisfying than any Jet ever!”
Notably, in India semiconductor or chip manufacturing company/startups virtually do not exist and if at all then they are solely based on outsourced software design for integrated circuit/micro controller i.e. — writing code (VHDL, verification etc, and is nothing to do with making any physical semiconductor in Lab.
In September last year, Intel Corporation acquired NetSpeed Systems, a San Jose, California-based provider of system-on-chip design tools and interconnect fabric intellectual property. NetSpeed was founded by Indian entrepreneurs – Sundari Mitra and Sailesh Kumar.
In the same month, Bengaluru-based chip design (VLSI) services company, SeviTech Systems, got acquired by UST Global, a California, US-based company backed by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek .
About Semiconductor or Chip manufacturing in India, apart from two Govt company — Semiconductor India Ltd (SCL) and Bharat Electronics Ltd
(BEL), there is no ‘Made in India’ chipset making local companies.
During 80’s SCL and BEL used to produce ASIC/Transistor using some old technology (licensing) from US company RCA that India Govt got from US Govt.
SCL used to make made some ASIC (~ 2 micron), EEPROM etc that they used in ISRO and BEL made some TV/Radio ICs/Transistor/Amplifier /Thyristor/high current switch under RCA license that used mostly in BW and Color Television/Radio and in Indian locomotives/Motor circuit.
In 2011, India negotiated with Israel-based Tower Semiconductor and bought one of their old plant in an attempt to produce some chip (mostly RAM, ASIC) in India.