Data centre is the new Gold Souk for India

In an interaction with Shubhendu Parth, he touches on various aspects of LTTS business, its core strength, focus on next-gen communications, partnership with BSNL, and Industry 4.0.

Shubhendu Parth
New Update


As the CEO and Managing Director of L&T Technology Services (LTTS), Amit Chadha is responsible for providing business and technology leadership, market direction and strategic vision to drive the company’s performance. As an engineer and IT outsourcing expert, he is hands-on with technology and believes in empowering people to foster innovation and drive customer service. In an interaction with Shubhendu Parth, he touches on various aspects of LTTS business, its core strength, focus on next-gen communications, partnership with BSNL, and Industry 4.0. Excerpts:


LTTS has its fingers in almost all pies in the evolving digital world. What is its core strength and how does it differentiate itself as a company?

I have been with LTTS for about 14 years, joining it when the company was about USD 60 million, and now we are talking about USD 1.15 billion in revenues from engineering services. We categorise our engineering services into three main buckets. Firstly, digital engineering comprises around 65% of our portfolio. Secondly, there is traditional engineering, accounting for about 20%, and finally, plant engineering, which makes up roughly 15%.

"We engage in product development and design for OEMs in the telecom domain, covering core networks, Open RAN, and telecom infrastructure."


Now, when you look at engineering as a whole, it is further divided based on industry segments. For instance, in discrete manufacturing, our role involves digitising products and facilitating the transition from products to services. We support the creation and rollout of new products, provide maintenance for existing ones, and handle aspects like computing and communications.

In the process sector, our focus shifts to plant engineering. This entails engineering new plants or upgrading existing ones. Lastly, traditional engineering involves supporting legacy systems and similar tasks. Segment-wise, high tech and transportation are our major sectors, constituting around 20% each, followed by industrial at about 20%, plant engineering at 15%, and medical devices making up the remainder.

What is LTTS doing in the next-gen communications space?


On the next-gen communications front, there are a couple of key aspects to our current endeavours. Firstly, we initiated our journey by collaborating with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). We engage in product development and design for various OEMs in the telecommunications domain, covering core networks, Open RAN, telecom infrastructure, and related technologies. Over the years, we have established partnerships with several OEMs, supporting them on hardware, software, testing, and sustaining their products.

Additionally, to expand our reach beyond OEMs, we acquired Orchestra Technology in Dallas, which helped us secure our first 10-million-plus operator customer in the US. We have built on top of that and now we have a client with 20 million customers and another with 10 million customers, along with several smaller operators both in the US and Europe. For these operator clients, we provide comprehensive network engineering, design, testing, and support services across various industry use cases.

Recognising the need to scale our capabilities further, we conducted an analysis and identified the necessity to have end-to-end network design capabilities. This led us to acquire Smart World & Communication (SWC), an L&T business specialising in network design and rollout for smart cities. Leveraging their expertise, we developed our network architecture capabilities, including the creation of Cogni View, a system of systems integrated with Operations Support Systems (OSS) and Business Support Systems (BSS). Furthermore, we established our own Network Operations Center (NOC) in Chennai.


Our focus now extends beyond 5G to encompass elements of 6G, Wi-Fi 6, and satellite connectivity. To support this, we have established labs in different locations. We have a Qualcomm stack lab in Santa Clara, we have a lab in Dallas on 5G for a manufacturing setup, a third lab in Munich focusing on automotive, a fourth one in Chennai on a non-open 5G stack, and a fifth one in Mysore on open source 5g stack. These labs facilitate the development of use cases and experimentation with different technology stacks.

As a result of these efforts, we have successfully attracted major clients in the US and Europe, both in the operator and OEM segments, and have made significant progress in building out use cases for next-gen communications technology. Our journey in the next-gen communications space continues to evolve, and we are excited to see where the future takes us.

And what about partnerships with the telcos in India?


We recently announced a partnership with BSNL, wherein we are collaborating closely with them to roll out new initiatives in India. This partnership is significant for us as we are not only working on projects for BSNL but also implementing initiatives for ourselves. Our Smart World team plays a pivotal role in these endeavours, serving as the cornerstone of our next-gen communications initiatives. Leveraging the expertise of our Smart World team, we have been able to engage with clients in the US and Europe, showcasing our capabilities and solidifying our presence in the global market.

An interesting observation in the current Indian context is the shift in perception towards initiatives undertaken in India. People now recognise and appreciate initiatives that have been successfully implemented in India, viewing them as scalable solutions applicable elsewhere. This is a positive development that underscores the potential and scalability of projects originateng from India, a sentiment that might not have been prevalent a decade ago.

People now recognise and appreciate initiatives that have been successfully implemented in India, viewing them as scalable solutions applicable elsewhere.


Considering that LTTS has a strong engineering and manufacturing background, where does the company stand in terms of Industry 4.0 offerings, particularly since the rollout of 5G?

Whether it is Industry 4.0 or Artificial Intelligence (AI), connectivity plays a pivotal role as these technologies ride on top of it. One may want to move solutions to the Edge or move everything to the Cloud, but then you need to discuss connectivity. Hence, if you look at the bets we are making, next-gen communications is a key area for us. Within LTTS, we are heavily investing in it; we have dedicated resources to establish a sales team and develop comprehensive solutions for this purpose. Recently, I reviewed our AI implementation for telcos and directed focus towards the embedded layer, emphasising the importance of holistic solutions. As an electrical engineer myself, I allocate significant time towards solution development, balancing this alongside other responsibilities such as investor relations and financial reporting. Internally, we allocate between 1-2% of our revenues annually towards POCs, projects, and skill-building initiatives.

Since LTTS is working on new technologies and solutions, is the company also filing for patents?


Indeed, I am proud to say that since my tenure as CEO, we have consistently filed patents, both for ourselves and our customers. During the last 10 quarters, the number of patents we are filing has jumped from 25 patents for our innovations and 25 for our clients per year to 25 each per quarter. This demonstrates our commitment to innovation and intellectual property for ourselves as well as for our customers.

In the context of Industry 4.0, how would you describe the evolution of private LTE and 5G network space in India and what role is LTTS playing in this space?

In the realm of digital manufacturing and Industry 4.0, the complexity of machinery is increasing, necessitating further training and skill development for technicians. Let us take an example of a car, which has evolved from a manual handle-based start system to the present-day fully automated vehicles. Similarly, the manufacturing sector has evolved. Today, digital manufacturing can be looked at from three perspectives. Firstly, the pre-launch phase involves creating digital mock-ups and simulated workflows before the plant goes live. This aims to understand the productivity levels and resolve clashes and supply chain issues. Secondly, post-launch, proactive monitoring of production lines is crucial to adjust capacity as needed. Flexibility is key here. Thirdly, real-time adjustments based on field input to adapt production schedules to demand. Connectivity is vital across all these stages.

In manufacturing plants, we usually see organisations implement Wi-Fi 6. Many organisations also adopt Zigbee networks, Microsoft networks, and microwave networks, before integrating 5G into the plant. These are common practices, enhancing connectivity and facilitating operations.

What about private LTE?

Certainly, our endeavours in private LTE are primarily aimed at serving private companies. We have collaborated with manufacturers in the US and India, and we have even secured contracts with entities like the UK Government. We have established a dedicated team within our next-gen communications division, focusing on enterprise networking solutions. This segment is integral to our overall strategy, and our team is diligently working to secure further success in this domain.

And Cloud?

Essentially, the Cloud is nothing but a form of storage, where data and computing power reside remotely. However, it is important to recognise that the cloud resides somewhere, data centres to be precise. This brings us back full circle to the significance of connectivity. In essence, the cloud operates within a comprehensive cycle, intertwining storage, computation, and connectivity.

However, I would like to highlight that India is witnessing a surge in the data centre market. I strongly believe that the data centre is the new Gold Souk for India and the democratisation of data centres, starting from the grassroots level, can herald a significant transformation in Digital India. Our pipeline in the Smart World business and our innovative solutions in data centres, such as the gEDGE data centre utilising dielectric liquid, underscore our commitment to sustainability and efficiency. This aligns with our vision of leveraging data centres as the catalyst for digital transformation in India.

"We provide solutions for compute—from the SOC layer to the embedded layer, data and application layers—as well as end-to-end connectivity solutions."

So, the point is that data and connectivity are the bedrock upon which our digital landscape thrives. AI is a part of compute. If there is no data, there is no computing, which means there is no connectivity. Without compute and connectivity, there is no AI.

What does this mean from the LTTS’ solution perspective?

We offer comprehensive solutions across various domains. We provide solutions for compute, spanning from the SOC layer to the embedded layer, and further to the data and application layers. Additionally, we offer storage solutions, primarily focusing on the SOC side. Moreover, we specialise in providing connectivity solutions, offering complete end-to-end solutions. In essence, if you have the resources, we can assemble a tailored network for you, complete with customised use cases.

Amit Chadha

CEO & Managing Director, L&T Technology Services