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April 12, 2013

ECIL to License Router Technology Developed at Academic Institution to Manufacture Routers for MTNL

Electronics Corporation of India Ltd. (ECIL) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with state-owned telecom company Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) to build Carrier Ethernet Switch Routers (CESRs) for deployment at eight sites in Mumbai. The router technology is licensed from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT Bombay) and could possibly mark the first time that carrier class technology will be used by a Tier 1 provider in India.

The router technology was developed by the Gigabit Networking Laboratory at IIT Bombay, led by Professor Aswin Gumaste. The CESRs have a port-to-port latency of one microsecond, the lowest in the industry, resulting in faster performance and lower power consumption.

MTNL will deploy the eight CESRs throughout Mumbai in an interconnected ring topology offering services such as leased lines, Ethernet and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) access in the 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps range. Since the CESRs are built indigenously, they will be able to provide an additional level of security that imported routers would not.

Hyderabad-based ECIL is a state-owned company established in 1967 that deals with several technologies including space, energy, defense and electronics. The company's philosophy and past history emphasize development of indigenous technology without outside assistance. Some of the milestone's in the company's history include the country's first digital computer, solid state TV, Earth station antenna and electronic voting machines.

MTNL was established in 1986 by the Indian government to develop telecommunications in Delhi and Mumbai. The company has been suffering financially, showing losses the previous three years and losing market share to private telecoms. One major factor in MTNL’s woes is that they spend about 50 percent of revenue on salary while the private telecoms spend about five to six percent. The company also had to pay a substantial amount of money to get 3G spectrum in Mumbai and Delhi.

The company faces other challenges as it has almost no money to invest in upgrades and has high interest payments on its debt. Setting up the infrastructure to provide more services to the Delhi and Mumbai markets through the CESRs developed by IIT Bombay would seem to give MTNL a huge advantage, but unless it solves other problems, any gains from the deployment of the CESRs would be quickly negated.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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