The 18th Telecom Leadership Forum (TLF) on the theme: Digital – Disruption & Consolidation saw the who is who in the telecom industry deliberating on an array of trends and issues reshaping Indian telecom industry and suggested way and means to transition to the next orbit of growth and opportunity.
Telecom Leadership Forum is an annual meeting of the Indian telecom leaders and other industry stakeholders. It is a platform to meet, discuss, and explore new and emerging business models, technology options, revenue streams and changing customer expectations. The objective is to help telecom leaders grow their business with better and newer services.
In his welcome address Ibrahim Ahmad, Group Editor, CyberMedia set the tone and context for the event by touching upon how consolidation is bringing in new opportunities of growth and stability to the Indian telecom sector.
In his introductory address titled “ Forecast & Action Strategies 2019”, Dr.Rajat Kathuria, CEO & Director, ICRIER said, “ Telecom is no longer just a vertical, its impact is far-reaching. It is also a very capital-intensive sector and the last mile has clearly revolutionized the sector. From the monopoly of the government, the sector has been liberalized. But we need to tread with caution with ongoing consolidation wave as data has become the king but at the same time the customer data needs to be protected.”
In her keynote address, Harmeen Mehta, Global CIO & Head of Digital, Bharti Airtel said, “ Consumer is the king. She spoke about Consumer 2.0: Future Forward. She started on the premise, “ India is a country of contradictions- 1% of Indians have 58% of the wealth. It’s home to the best universities and schools, but 200 mn plus illiterates. Only 150 mn have desktops, but 400mn have smartphones. Smartphones grew by 16% but penetration is just about 36%. So clearly we need to bring in parity and bridge the digital chasm. We need to take digital to the masses.”
Meanwhile Rajan Mathews, DG, COAI talked elaborately about the key building blocks for digital India.
In the subsequent sections, on Digital Network for the Digital Indian, Arjun Shilkar, Director, Systems Engineering, Service Provider Business, Cisco, K S. Rao, CEO, Telecom Services, Sterlite Technologies, P,Balaji, Chief Regulatory & Corp Affairs Officer, Vodafone Idea touched about how digital can empower the masses and the critical role played by the Telecos in this digital revolution.
In the next session on “The Peoples’ Network: NextGen, Ravi Saxena, Master Technologist, HP Enterprise in his keynote talked about: “Shared Data Environment”. His main message was standardization and industry way forward. He touched upon the telco transformation and how from Networks with Monolithic functions is transitioning NFV and moving forward to an Agile Cloud Native CSP networks. Others in the panel who deliberated on this session were: V.Umashankr, CEO, Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority, Abhay Savargaonkar, ex-CTO Airtel.
In the session titled: Secure Networks for Work & Play, Brijesh Datta, EVP & CISO, Reliance Jio; Vikas Awasthi, Security Sales lead for Public Sector, Cisco India spoke about how security has become a paramount entity and secured networks are vital for the safer delivery of services.
In the session: The Future is Now, Puneet Chawla, CMD, Railtel spoke about how Railtel is building a high capacity, high quality national digital infrastructure. Meanwhile, Badri Gomatam, CTO, Sterlite Technologies, stressed the need for hyper-connectivity and the need for networks to evolve to deliver hyper-connectivity.
In the session titled, Network is Networth, Vinay Kumar, Director (AI), Microsoft said, “ India is Transforming at Scale and Speed, has the potential to be a $6 trillion economy by 2027 and how India is leapfrogging in digital and critical role played by networks. Meanwhile, Manish Sinha, CMO, Sterlite Technologies said, “ We need to design networks for superior experience and the key ingredient that goes into making it worthy.”
In the last session titled Smartphone 2.0, Rajen Vagadia, MD, Qualcomm India said, “ The smartphone continues to be an integral part of our daily lives It is impossible to imagine life without it. The performance and utility of these devices is nothing short of incredible. Today AI is used to design every aspect of the experience that the smartphones deliver: be it photography, videography, gaming, browsing, social media. It is even used in some otherwise mundane appearing task like battery life management, voice interaction, or some not much understood and increasingly getting critical aspects like security are enhanced by AI. The smartphones on 5G, will power next-generation experiences and make it Immersive, interactive and engaging.
Other speakers also spoke about how Smartphone has become the epicenter of all things and how it has altered our lives.
The event also had a very interesting “Captains Roundtable” consisting of the captains of the telecom industry who ideated on the issues, opportunities and the road ahead for Indian telecom.
At the end of the day, the 18th TLF event, probably happening at a time a when telecom is at the cusp of a major transformations and the players of all hues are going aggressive to tap in on the new and emerging opportunities. The deliberations over the day clearly emphasised that digital is the way forward and how we need to gear up for this new telecom age. In a way, the TLF also took a due diligence on the current state of telecom in this part of the world and acted as an apt forum to look at what lies ahead and how we can be fully prepared.