By Manishika Miglani
According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the mobile Internet user base in India is projected to reach 243 mn in 2014. With customers becoming more data hungry and demanding higher speed services, mobile networks are increasingly strained to cope with this demand.
CommScope, a global leader in infrastructure solutions for communications networks, has been addressing these challenges by delivering end-to-end solutions that help connect people and technologies.
Peter Karlsson, Senior Vice President of Global Sales, CommScope, in an interview with Voice&Data highlights CommScope’s overall commitment to India while divulging on the network challenges faced by operators. Some excerpts:
Voice&Data: What is CommScope’s role in enabling quality communication networks in India?
Peter Karlsson: Our focus has been to build coverage in India by building capacity. It would mean providing a lot of bandwidth for data. India may be one or two years behind the US, a gap that we are thinking of closing as our next goal.
We will do this by working with our key customers, who are the wireless operators, by supporting them either directly or indirectly through our OEM partners. The other way to help them would be to support them with our local supply through our large facility created in Goa.
Voice&Data: Can you shed some light on your facility in Goa where you have managed to manufacture one mn base station antennas?
Peter Karlsson: We built this state-of-the art facility in 2006 spread over 25,000 square metres which is the second largest facility for base station antennas we have in the world. Here, we have created a milestone by manufacturing and deploying ten lakh base stations antennas . The facility is part of our global network manufacturing platform where we try to make use of our overall strength and supply as much as we can locally. The majority of what we produce in India is for our Indian customers which is also exported.
We make sure that have a steady supply chain. We do this by localizing the supply chain by buying all the raw materials and other things to manufacture the final product. So, Goa is a very important facility for us not just in India but globally as well.
Voice&Data: What are the network challenges faced by service providers in India and how CommScope can partner with them to address these challenges?
Peter Karlsson: We are helping the operators with two main things—Network modernization and Network densification. As it very difficult for operators to acquire new sites in urban and semiurban areas, the service providers face a challenge in rolling out 2G, 3G and 4G services. So, we bring antenna solutions for the operators to combine all these technologies into the same antenna and also support multiple frequency bands.
The second part of our services is in the domain of network densification. According to one of the researches, there will be 400 mn smartphone users in India by 2015, which is more than the population of United States. These 400 mn smartphone users will pose a big challenge on the network side in terms of the capacity requirements. So, we will work on network densification or adding more capacity to the existing network. We have deployed solutions for the operators in India called the twin beam Internet antennas, taking care of this front.
Voice&Data: What is CommScope’s overall commitment to India and the factors that drive your business?
Peter Karlsson: We feel bullish about India while working in this country for the last 20 years. Now, we see a lot of enthusiasm in our wireless and enterprise business considering the subdued sentiment in telecom two years ago. Also, the new leadership in India is very positive making us foresee healthy economic growth in our business in years to come.
Voice&Data: What do you have to say about the 4G trend and the challenges attached to it in terms of coverage?
Peter Karlsson: 4G predominantly at most places is at a higher frequency band, which does not penetrate well in the buildings. So the in-building coverage will become a very important aspect of the network. We see a lot of focus and emphasis on in-building in Europe and the US. We will see the same trend happening at some point in India as well. We bring in solutions for in-building called as DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems Solutions) and plan to become the leaders in this space as well.
Voice&Data: What are the main problems of spectrum usage and how does CommScope deal with it?
Peter Karlsson: Spectrum is a very scarce resource that needs to be utilized efficiently. Also, 4G technology is one of the most efficient uses of the spectrum and is very sensitive to noise. Therefore, if the interference levels are high, then the output on the data side will be lower. So, we bring in technology that helps reduce these interference levels to give a significantly higher throughput.
Voice&Data: What trends do you see in India five years from now?
Peter Karlsson: Five years from now, we might see the same trend in India as it is witnessed in the US in terms of quality of services and network becoming more important when it comes to data with
people willing to pay a premium amount to avail such services.
We will continue to see smartphone penetration into various other territories and rural areas which is confined to the top 100 cities presently. This would mean a lot of data traffic, which will give way
to addition of capacity through network densification technology in the years to come.