Top 3 Trends For Telecom Sector Which Can Change Everything In 2019
4G is slowly and steadily giving way to 5G, and telecom sector is warming up.
This is a Guest Post by Mr. Rajesh Mishra, Co-Founder, President and CTO, Parallel Wireless. Peek into the mind of a telecom veteran, and find out what will drive the growth of Telecom industry in 2019!
The Indian telecommunications industry is at interesting crossroads today. On the one hand, they have started moving towards the deployment of 5G, and on the other hand, they need to expand the network to make connectivity accessible in the difficult-to-reach areas.
The National Digital Communications Policy 2018, which was released earlier this year, highlights this. Connect India, Propel India and Secure India are the three pillars of the policy. The service providers and the vendors need to come up with innovations to make both possible, `connecting’ the unconnected and enabling newer and innovative technologies to `propel’ the overall growth. The coming year will see Indian telcos adopting technologies such as virtualization to make this possible.
Mainstreaming of 4G; Preparing for 5G
Possibly the most significant trend of 2018 is the unprecedented growth of data consumption in the country. The mobile internet connections grew from 346 million in late 2016 to 491 million this year, according to the data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The consumption per user has also reached 3.2Gb per user per month.
The indications are that this growth is likely to continue for some time. As of now only less than 30% of the country has access to the internet. Besides, the smartphone penetration is likely to more than double between 2017 and 2020, according to Morgan Stanley.
India’s 4G subscriber base touched 238 million in March this year. Ericsson’s Mobility Report earlier this year said that the country is likely to have 780 million Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) subscribers by 2023.
As the year 2018 comes to an end, the service providers have started to prepare the networks for the 5G and this is likely to pick up steam in the coming year. Airtel and Vodafone Idea have already used Carrier Aggregation while Airtel has explored Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) for optimum utilisation of the available resources. This will gather steam in the coming year as the Indian telecom industry will work to bring 5G to India and also to prepare the networks for extreme broadband applications such as virtual reality, augmented reality and more.
Warming Up To Virtualization
The Indian telcos have already started warming to the concept of virtualization, and this will pick up speed in the coming year. It is a hugely relevant concept for the Indian market as it not only helps in addressing the digital divide but also to prepare the networks for the upcoming 5G rollout.
The traditional networks are hardware centric, which makes it tough to deploy and manage. With Virtualization, the network moves from being hardware-centric to software-focused, which makes the network more agile and flexible and thus more responsive to the needs and demands of the customer. It is also easier and more cost-effective to upgrade a software-centric network. Further, it has self-optimizing and self-organizing capabilities, making it easier to manage.
With Virtualization, the Indian telcos will be able to expand the network in the rural and difficult to reach areas. At the same time the network infrastructure will be ready for 5G or any other technology. This way the service providers will be able to address the requirements of their 2G subscribers and also be prepared to move to 3G, 4Gk or 5G, as and when the market is ready or whenever it is commercially viable to move to new technology.
Virtualization is gaining global traction. The concept is integral to Facebook’s Open RAN Telecom Infra Project (TIP), which is successfully being used by major global services providers, including Vodafone and Telefonica, to bridge the digital divide. What makes is especially relevant for India is that it is compliant with all Gs, be it 2G, 3G, 4G or 5G. It disaggregates the hardware and software components to bring down the cost. Further, this approach encourages the use of `white box’ which not only adds agility but also brings down the cost of deployment and management.
The 2G technology continues to be used even now in India, and low-paying capability in the rural areas means that it will be used for quite some time. With virtualization, the service providers can move from one technology to another when the market is ready.
Focus On Enterprise Segment
Take the extremely competitive wireless market under consideration, and it is easy to see why the service providers are now focusing on the enterprise segment. The enterprises need reliable information and communication technology infrastructure to use collaboration and other digital tools for business gain effectively. They require seamless connectivity to take full advantage of digitalization. Gaps in indoor coverage may lead to poor results. A Small Cell Forum report confirms that around 61% of enterprises have poor indoor coverage.
Small cells would need to be deployed to enhance the indoor coverage. The recent innovations in small cells make it easier to use and are also much more cost effective.
The coming year will see the Indian telcos expanding in the newer markets, like rural areas and enterprise segment. They have already started exploring virtualization and this will incorporate it in their network upgradation and modernizations plans. This way they will be able to expand in newer areas, connect the unconnected and at the same time prepare the networks for upcoming 5G technology.
Parallel Wireless, is an end-to-end connectivity solutions provider enabling carriers to deploy any G cellular networks as easily and as cost-effectively as enterprise Wi-Fi whether for rural, enterprise, public safety, M2M, Smart Cities, or dense urban. Currently, the company in production deployment or in trials with major leading operators on six continents. In a market marred with Urban-Rural divide, Spectrum scarcity, Regulatory uncertainty, Challenges of the low ARPU Rural market, growing OPEX and CAPEX costs for Telcos, PW is working with some of the leading telcos in the country.