Moving ahead with the expansion of Digital Telecom the next-generation digital technologies offer a plethora of viable opportunities to streamline business functions, catalyze transformation and improve efficiencies across industries.
Digital Expansion in India
The Indian telecom industry has witnessed rapid expansion in digital telecom in recent years. The Government and the industry have worked in tandem to make the Indian telecom sector the second largest in the world. The Government’s ambitious Digital India vision and its roadmap is premised on universal access and inclusion, giving digital identity to everyone and delivering next generation goods and services to all citizens. The Government has been a pivotal force behind India’s digital makeover with series of pro-growth reforms like Make in India, Smart City projects, Fiberisation, Start-up India and other progressive policies that have laid the right foundation for growth. Further, the introduction of National Digital Communications Policy 2018 is another key milestone. The policy targets propelling India towards becoming a US$1 trillion digital economy by 2025. It intends to enhance the contribution of the Digital Communications sector to 8% of India’s GDP from 6% in 2017.
Apart from this, the commercial deployment of 5G by 2020 will facilitate the digital transformation of the digital telecom sector, open up new business models, opportunities and Telcos will be increasingly using technologies such as Blockchain, SDN & NFV, AI, machine learning and cloud computing in their operational processes. This would not only enhance efficiencies but would also go a long way in enriching user experience & sustenance in the digital world.
The telecom industry is at the very crux of India’s digital revolution and it is also the harbinger of futuristic technologies that will catalyze the country’s transformation. Adopting digital drivers such as infusion of digital payments, the emergence of alternative modes of commerce such as social and content-based commerce, increase in consumption of media, gaming, and entertainment, generating significant avenues for consumer outreach and engagement, an ecosystem had been created by Internet players for greater monetization. Data connectivity to India’s population with the wide deployment of broadband will be at the core of the ‘Digital India’ scheme.
At the same time, in order to achieve digital connectivity, it either needs to generate sufficient cash flows that can be plowed back to the business, or it needs to be attractive enough to draw in funds, be it in the form of equity or debt. Hence, it is vital to ensure that the telecom industry remains financially strong. The financial health of the telecom industry has to be safeguarded and there is a need to boost the financial viability of the industry in order to meet the investment expectations.
By targeting a $100 billion worth of investments while addressing the issue of rationalization of taxes and levies, the NDCP 2018 focuses on the sector’s long-term sustainability and ability to invest in new technologies. Currently, India’s telcos pay around 30% of their revenues in taxes and levies such as spectrum usage charges and license fees.
Next-generation digital technologies offer a plethora of viable opportunities to streamline business functions, catalyze transformation and improve efficiencies across industries. On the health, education and agriculture fronts, digitization will open up possibilities of advancement by bridging the digital divide and driving reach and connectivity to the most remote and inaccessible areas. At the most basic level, telcos are leveraging their network capabilities and offering connectivity, video conferencing and collaboration solutions to all and sundry.
On the customer support front, providing digital customer service can significantly reduce costs and deliver flawless and more satisfying customer experiences. Apart from this, telecom has many characteristics that make it a likely home for Blockchain. This will drive transparency, security, and ease of operation in the telecom sector. Also, telcos’ infrastructure must evolve from the expensive and difficult-to-manage set of discrete network elements to a virtualized communications and cloud infrastructure, which can be managed in a highly autonomous fashion, at extremely low cost. Other key areas of digital telecom include Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), AR/VR and cloud computing.
Archana Verma | voicendata
On the health, education and agriculture fronts, digitisation will open up possibilities of advancement by bridging the digital divide and driving reach and connectivity to the most remote and inaccessible areas.
— Rajan S Mathews, DG, COAI
Given the quantum of data being transmitted over the networks and the burgeoning generation and consumption of digital data, some to the key best practices that we need to adopt include those pertaining to data security and privacy. Next should be data localization, smooth transition to FV and SDN and efficient management of digital processes. Further, the use of more business analytics tools and increasing the number of customer touchpoints are also crucial for telcos, keeping in perspective the rapid digitization that is happening all around us.
Further, telecom infrastructure should be treated more as a critical service, rather than essential service. This implies that state authorities should be responsible to protect laid out infrastructure against vandalism and thefts, by providing necessary support to the industry. States such as Haryana have included clauses regarding the security of telecom infrastructure.
Rajan S Mathews
The author is DG, COAI