India’s digital transformation, driven by the rapid adoption of 5G and evolving technologies, presents both opportunities and challenges for service providers
India is experiencing a substantial surge in 5G network deployments by service providers since the launch of 5G services in October 2022. The rapid adoption of 5G in the country can be attributed to the widespread availability of networks across urban and rural areas, cost-effective service plans, and the increasing accessibility of 5G-enabled smartphones. Projections indicate that the number of 5G subscribers in India is expected to reach 200 million in 2024 and is anticipated to grow exponentially to 800 million by 2028.
The integration of 800G networking, along with sustainability considerations, will influence CIOs’ purchasing decisions in 2024.
The digital landscape in India is undergoing significant transformation, driven by the proliferation of 5G. This technological shift aligns with the government’s vision to establish a digitally empowered society and a knowledge-based economy. As the country embraces the potential of 5G, data traffic has doubled over the past few years and is poised to sustain a growth rate of 25-30% in the coming years.
In the evolving technology landscape of 2024, several key trends are shaping the strategies of service providers. The adoption of dual-vendor Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solutions is becoming crucial for bridging security and networking gaps. AI-driven routing technology is gaining prominence to meet the increasing bandwidth demands across core and metro networks. Additionally, the implementation of Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations (AIOps) is transitioning from a luxury to a necessity for efficient Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) management.
Unified and cloud-based management solutions are emerging as indispensable tools for service providers. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) continue to play a crucial role in the growth of SD-WAN, providing unified solutions and support. The advent of 800G networking is set to address the data-heavy demands of the evolving landscape, while sustainability considerations are becoming influential factors in the decision-making process for technology acquisitions.
AI FOR NETWORK MANAGEMENT
In the realm of network management, the integration of AI is poised to bring transformative changes. In 2024, one can expect AIOps to evolve into a necessity for transforming reactive processes into proactive strategies. This shift is expected to enhance end-user experiences as AI assists in troubleshooting network problems and elevates operational efficiency. The increasing proliferation of IoT devices and bandwidth-intensive applications, coupled with the growth of AI in both enterprise and consumer markets, will drive the migration to Wi-Fi 6E and the anticipation of Wi-Fi 7.
Cloud-based management solutions will enable rapid technology deployments, robust security, and better network availability.
The year 2024 is earmarked as a period of preparation for service providers to deliver reliable and high-performing experiences to every device, connection, and user. Cloud-based management solutions will offer centralised visibility and enable rapid technology deployments, ensuring robust security and improved network availability. The combination of on-premises automation with cloud-based AIOps is expected to enhance efficiency and elevate end-user experiences, aligning with organisational objectives.
CHALLENGES FOR THE CIOs
With the massive changes in the communications landscape, CIOs may face challenges in managing the exponential growth of data. The rapid 5G and 4G adoption, along with increased smartphone usage, has led to an exponential growth in data usage with the average data traffic per smartphone in India touching 31GB per month, the highest globally. Predictions indicate a 20% growth in the next five years, reaching 70GB per month by 2029. Service providers confront the challenge of continually augmenting core and metro transport networks to meet the ever-growing demands of data traffic in their networks.
The integration of 800G networking, combined with sustainability considerations, is set to influence purchasing decisions. Striking a balance between on-premise and cloud-based AIOps solutions poses a challenge, necessitating careful navigation of internal and external partnerships.
In conclusion, the dynamic landscape of India’s digital transformation, driven by the rapid adoption of 5G and evolving technologies, presents both opportunities and challenges for service providers. As the country navigates this transformative journey, strategic adaptation and innovative solutions will be essential for leveraging these technologies to ensure sustained growth and maintain a competitive advantage in the evolving communication landscape.
By Vivek Kalra
The author is the Director and Head of Telecom Business, India and SAARC at Juniper Networks.