As the world steps into a new decade, 2020 will be remembered as the most disruptive year in living memory. As the pandemic spread across the world, it was telecom networks and technology services that kept people connected.
4G networks managed to keep the global economy going despite widespread lockdowns. Though global economic activity was muted, people had access to health services, education, information, and entertainment over the internet while at home. But for high-speed telecom services, the global economy would have been ravaged. Industry experts say this has led to a mindset change to revive India’s telecom story and also introduce future technologies faster.
Earlier this month K. Ramchand, Member (Technology), Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said that it would soon announce 5G spectrum bands for auction. That’s a clear indication that adopting 5G is now a priority for the government. Most Indian telecom service providers currently lack the financial muscle to invest and build a 5G ecosystem, but the government has indicated that it is willing to start the process.
Lt. Gen Dr. S.P. Kochhar, Director General, COAI says: “5G technology is poised to open up a plethora of possibilities in terms of business models, and overall, enhanced lifestyles for one and all. We seek the support of the government in enabling the industry to play its role as an enabler of horizontal growth and a boost to the nation’s economy. The 5G potential is immense and can turn the game for India and be a catalyst for the government’s campaigns such as Make in India, Digital India, Atmanirbhar Bharat.”
Enterprises are at an inflection point in partnering with players focusing on technical skills and turnkey solutions to drive efficiencies and building efficient and future-ready networks. According to Karthik Natarajan, President and COO, Cyient, “We are seeing significant investments in the communication network space. The current digital transformation will lead to enhanced user experience, increased operational efficiency, and a competitive edge for enterprise businesses. Our experience in design, delivery, deployment, migration, and support of network infrastructure globally makes us an ideal partner for 5G rollouts.”
Over the past few years, many global technology companies have set up a manufacturing base in India. Samsung got the nod from the Uttar Pradesh government to make OLED at its Noida factory recently. Though such investments are significant investments in R&D, semiconductors and future technology need a lot of impetus. The big challenge that India faces in electronics manufacturing is the lack of a world-class semiconductor fabricating unit (FAB). It’s time the government either gets global players to invest in a Fab in India or start the work to build a domestic version.
Anku Jain, Managing Director, MediaTek India says: “2020 has set the stage for 5G to go mainstream and in 2021 this will also lead to an increase in demand for next-gen 5G smartphones, newer applications and smart devices like smart TVs, tablets, phones integrated with a voice interface, etc.”
It will be interesting and crucial to see how India can attract investments in future technologies with 5G making a tectonic shift in the TMT industry and presenting a range of economic opportunities in the next three to five years.