Telecom

Telecom for enterprise and social growth – clear shift towards digital transformation

Voice & Data, Cybermedia organized a webinar titled: Telecom for enterprise and social growth, today. The participants were Vishant Vora, CTO, Vodafone Idea Ltd, Abhijit Kishore, Director, Enterprise Business, Vodafone Idea Ltd, and Dr. Badri Gomatam, Group CTO, STL. Pradeep Gupta, Chairman, Cybermedia Group, moderated the session.

Inaugurating the webinar, Pradeep Gupta, Chairman, Cybermedia Group, took everyone through the pandemic, and dwelt on how quickly the telecom networks had responded to the crisis.

Vishant Vora, CTO, Vodafone Idea Ltd, said: “What happened in the first 48 hours was that we experienced tremendous growth in capacity, similar to what we had in two years. We stepped up to the task. All of that was done by people who were working from their homes. Eg., there was a problem with an enterprise in Delhi. We solved their issue. We also have a NOC that has been empty for the last three months. People have been doing WFH. It is a revelation that lot of the activities can be done from home.

Gupta agreed that the way the telecom industry has reacted has been brilliant. We did not even realize that something was happening.

Abhijit Kishore, Director, Enterprise Business, Vodafone Idea Ltd, said: “We have made a move from solely being a telco to being a technology player, offering cloud, managed services, etc. We have also seen a clear shift towards digital transformation. This shift is very evident. It is the new normal. People are now working from their homes.

How do you make this same shift happen for the enterprises? Customers have been able to handle the massive surge in data. This transition happened overnight. Automation is also changing. Today, everything is available as a service. We are now fully designed to serve the scale with utmost responsibility.

Changes embedded
Gupta added that digital transformation has indeed got accelerated. What will be the permanent changes embedded in us?

Vora said these can be digital. Cloud is another big trend, and so is data. Without these, you can’t run your businesses. We are cloudified and scaled up in large capacities. That flexibility has helped us. Adoption of cloud will accelerate, and so will digital. If you want to go digital, telecom becomes very essential. There has been unprecedented scalability as well.

Dr. Badri Gomatam, Group CTO, STL, added: “Various things have impacted the lifestyle. Half the world today has digital infrastructure. We now need to address how can you now scale efficiently on the software and the infrastructure sides. Communication technologies will have focus on SDN, and make it cloud native.

Now, penetration of FTTH has been growing all over the world. What is the penetration in India? At least 50% of the audience felt it is less than or just 3% across India, during an online poll.

Digital transformation
Gupta noted that digital transformation is now the way of conducting business. In the new normal, what will be the new business models?

Kishore said the new normal is hard to define, right now. We now have a huge opportunity. We see smart automation coming out, eg., in healthcare. Some other sectors are automotive and manufacturing. Vodafone Idea also plays in IoT and smart automation. This will be key, along with data shifts, video conferencing, etc. Vodafone Idea is into IoT, and also partners with the automotive industry. We need to see how we leverage the IoT solutions.

For the last two years, Vodafone Idea has been investing in the next-gen technologies. Vora added that cloud is a huge area. We are also investing in wireless technologies, eg., massive MIMO. We also have large investments in IoT and consumer spaces. Analytics is another area, and it will be the next big thing. Getting the insights from these transactions will benefit the enterprises.

Dr. Gomatam said from STL’s point, the evolution will take place. From an architecture perspective, there is wireless and wireline convergence happening. This brings an important place for all the activities mentioned. We have use cases of low latency, AR/VR, gaming, streaming, etc. There is the ability to run your network and FTTH, on cloud, as well. We have invested in several technologies.

Atma Nirbhar Bharat
Next, how can telecom help in bringing about Atma Nirbhar Bharat? Vora added that all agree the licence raj needs to be dismantled to improve the ease of doing business. The amount of spectrum we buy, that needs to be looked at as well.

Kishore said that as far as the telcos are concerned, we are emphasizing on customer needs. Telcos are providing self-reliance needs, and the Digital India part of the objective needs to be helped. We also need to focus on the MSME segment. Telcos play a major role in making them self-reliant. We try and help them connect, automate, etc.

Vora noted that we are trying to keep India self-reliant, and keep the users more productive. We bring technologies faster to the market, and bring benefits. The society and the technology are becoming software oriented. SDN is a key area. So is software! We have to ensure that we play to our strengths. Technology is a very fast-moving sector. We need to be more future looking. In the future, the networks will become almost 80% software driven. We also need to develop our own IPRs and patents.

Dr. Gomatam agreed that building up on the R&D is very important. We have lot of young talent coming up. There is a hunger and thirst to build stuff. The ability for India to leapfrog is immense. We need to see how the younger generation adopts. They should work on the emerging technology areas. There is a shift taking place. Embedded software stacks are being done in the country. Also, businesses will be able to commit to more solutions out of India.

Vocal about local
To this, Gupta asked whether India can go vocal about local? Will security and software be areas? Vora said there is potential in these spaces. We also need to develop patents and build an ecosystem around that. Kishore agreed the potential is there. We need to be able to monetize and scale that.

On another question regarding the scarcity of spectrum, Vora clarified that there is no scarcity of spectrum. In India, we have made it artificially scarce. There are countries like China and Japan. We now need to have adequate spectrum and build on it for prosperity.

Kishore felt that there will be growing use cases. Those, supported by the robust fiber network, will help. Over time, people will consume bandwidth that is provided. Telecom today is an essential service. This is the right time to take note. It is an absolute essential for enterprises for enhancing productivity. He added that the eSIM will be part of the IoT in future.

Finally, how can we help transform the OTT channels and engage with customers? Vora said there is a latency and bandwidth experience. We need to do quick processing via the edge network. The OTT players make money from how fast the users can access their content. Telcos will have mobile edge computing in the near future.

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