India Worth More Than Outsourcing

Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi. Not long ago, these Indian cities were little more than echoes from geography class, dots on a map marking the edge of an empire upon which the sun finally set.

More recently, they’ve been associated with (for better or worse) offshoring, as multinational corporations build call centers, factories and software development labs there.

But telecom gear makers now look at India for more than inexpensive, tech-savvy labor. They see a burgeoning market for products and services with growth rates outpacing the United States and Europe.

There’s been a steady stream of evidence to support the shift this summer, but it’s been overshadowed by accounting woes and disappointing earnings forecasts.

For example, Nortel (Quote) promised a new emphasis on India and will provide Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) with equipment for a GSM (define) network.

Alcatel (Quote), Nokia (Quote) and others are in line for other parts of the BSNL project, which will tally hundreds of millions of dollars.

Meanwhile Cisco (Quote) reported fourth-quarter revenues from India jumped 40 percent over the same period last year, and Lucent and Motorola (Quote) and others are ramping up operations on the subcontinent.