5G will require upskilling and reskilling of existing workforce: Sriram T.V., Juniper Networks

VoicenData had another opportunity to interact with Sriram T. V., Director of Consulting & Business Development at Juniper Networks for India and SAARC. Sriram, in this interview, has elaborated more on the prospective employment opportunities with 5G’s launch. An extensive explanation by Sriram indicates how 5G will help accelerate Digital India initiatives. Few excerpts of the interaction:

VoicenData: So far, has Juniper partnered or collaborated with vendors, startups, government agencies, etc. for the launch of 5G in India?

Sriram: Currently, we have a global partnership with Ericsson and we did some joint showcasing at the recently concluded India Mobile Congress event in New Delhi. Ericsson has their radio and core portion and we are complementing their portfolio to give end-to-end network architecture to the users or the service providers. So, at this point of time, our partnership represents an end to end 5G solution and it can be managed from a single pane of glass. Ericsson is currently having discussions with some of the operators and we will be their partners of choice for realizing the 5G end-to-end architecture.

Currently, we have a global partnership with Ericsson and we did some joint showcasing at the recently concluded India Mobile Congress event in New Delhi.

VoicenData: In your opinion, how is the Indian Government supporting organizations like Juniper to ensure the test, trials, and launch of 5G?

Sriram: The government is showing its support by appointing the 5G high-level forum which came up with their recommendations and the other thing is the government is very aggressive to launch 5G by 2020 and they are pushing across industries and academia.

The key priorities for 5G in India from a government perspective are:

  1. Deployment in a quick, efficient and pervasive manner. Everyone is excited about Digital India and how it is going to be a big thing and its effects on smart cities and how it’s going to benefit at the national level. Thus, there is a lot of focus and push for the early deployment.
  2. The second priority is technology and how India can go beyond the capability in the design and Intellectual Property (IP) domain
  3. Third is the manufacturing domain which is expanding in both semi-control fabrication as well as assembly and test plants. So, if you know this it will also give you an idea of what sort of jobs that will get created.

The government is pushing all the vendors and the department of telecom has invited all major Telco’s along with equipment providers to initiate big trials.

They are offering free spectrum for about a year which is a great encouragement from the government. I understand that they are also encouraging corporates including startups in this space who are promoting R&D and free trials on 5G. Hence, there is a good momentum and push from the government’s end, but the crucial aspect is how the spectrum is going to be sold, how they are going to commercialize, what sort of payment model they are going to look for, etc. That is still a work in progress but from an initial trial perspective they are pretty much pushing hard and there is a lot of support from the government.

VoicenData: With the launch of 5G, what is your take on the creation of prospective job opportunities and start-up support?

Sriram: In India, they had commissioned a high-level forum for 5G led by Stanford University senior professor in 2017 and they have come up with a report. The key objective of the report was to define a vision for 5G in India and identify the process and action plan to realize this vision which is called the 5G India 2020 high-level forum report. The economic impact of 5G alone will be about close to 1 Trillion dollars by 2035. The other aspect is that there is a big push for product development and manufacturing ecosystem and how does it translate to the job market can be estimated from there.

The economic impact of 5G alone will be about close to 1 Trillion dollars by 2035.

The Digital India initiative and allied projects like Bharat Net and Smart Cities all fuels the growth of 5G. Industrial revolution 4.0 will be pushed as one of the major beneficiaries of the 5G will be the industrial segments. Let’s take the example of healthcare – Ayushman Bharat which is about addressing some 500 million population as what they are looking at. Quality education to more than 200 million students across college, schools will be a big push for the education sector. In the case of the agriculture segment, the core aim is doubling the income of farmers which is close to 150 million farmers.

In terms of job growth, we can say that all the traditional jobs will need to undergo training.

In terms of job growth, we can say that all the traditional jobs will need to undergo training. This will lead to the creation of a new commerce for the new India which will be completely digital with artificial intelligence powered marketplace and the opportunities for upskilling, reskilling for job opportunities are going to go up. This is something which nobody has sized up yet, but the promises are great. Job opportunities cannot be in the traditional way or the usual ones, but new profiles will start emerging.

It’s going to be a big push for Digital India and Make in India initiatives. Once you have this high bandwidth technology, it can support artificial intelligence, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). All these technologies can be capitalized for training and for education and healthcare purpose.

VoicenData: What are Juniper’s efforts to train the existing workforce for 5G deployment?

Sriram: We look at this from two aspects, in terms of our portfolio, how Juniper is readying the people on that front and secondly, how it is a larger play. First and foremost, 5G technology brings in a lot of new concepts and new technology capabilities in design, implementation, and troubleshooting.

Normally what happens in any technology is that there is day zero, day one and day two activities. Day zero is all about design architecture, day one is about the rollout and implementation and day three is about the performance. 5G impacts all these three areas and the way we design the network. In fact, critical infrastructure starts right from the edge and even beyond that. We can divide the entire cloud into different layouts for catering to different types of communication. Network slicing is no more about connecting to a network, you are actually going to design, implement and manage multiple virtual networks catering to different requirements. This means that the approach to all these three stages has to be different. Based on this, we must look at training people, taking into consideration the larger picture.

For example, being from the IT transport or the transport world, we must monitor inputs at a block level. So, we normally train people on the router, show them how to troubleshoot the router while making sure that they know what the problems in the router are. The problem can be anywhere; on the transport, the core or on the app. Hence, we work at educating our people along the route of more of the solutions and as an end-to-end services sort of an approach.

We are creating a lot of modules on the Juniper University that we have internally. We have it on IoT and 5G, or design, networks.

VoicenData: Are these training programs ongoing? Is Juniper getting the workforce already into these training methodologies?

Sriram: There are a lot of training modules available on Juniper products from a technology front such as on the impact of 5G and other topics. Today, it is more about educating people because as Juniper is positioning itself like any other transport boxes, we must know how to talk through the box. The same routers can be configured for multiple services. We need to know the challenges connected to it and the things that are generated. We are creating a lot of modules on the Juniper University that we have internally. We have it on IoT and 5G, or design, networks. The second thing is the partner enabled player that we have our own SAE’s trained on this. The training will need to have a very good handshake with the radio guys, the transport and the core guys and that’s how this will play out in the long run for the end-to-end perspective.

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