Voice&Data-COAI India 5G Conference Decodes India’s 5G Preparedness

The Voice&Data-COAI India 5G Evolution conference in collaboration with Nokia, Indus Towers, Jio Digital Life, Ericsson, BSNL and Panasonic, took a deep dive on the 5G adoption dynamics and its impact for both the operators and the consumers.

Ibrahim Ahmad, Group Editor, Cybermedia, setting the tone and context in his opening remarks stated that 5G has multifold ramifications for the Telecom industry in India and how operators will ink an aggressive 5G play in the days ahead.

In his welcome address, Pradeep Gupta, CMD, Cybermedia said, ” 5G is a revolution and it will completely alter the telecom industry. There was a period before the mobile – the fixed landline age. And with the advent of mobiles, it changed everything and similarly, 5G will change the scheme of things.”

The conference was themed in such a way that it gave a ringside view of the state of 5G evolution at this point in time. The inaugural session titled as – Pioneers – it took on to how leading operators, technology companies, and policymakers are gearing up for 5G rollout across the globe. Here, Vikram Tiwathia, Deputy Director General, COAI said, ” India after embracing broadband in a big way which acted as a springboard for many businesses to thrive, the country is now on the threshold of 5G and we need to exploit 5G for the greater good and reap its dividends.”

Haken Ohlsen, Director, Head of Technical Regulations, Ericsson said, India will play a significant role in the 5G space and he talked about the availability of spectrum across low to new bands for the seamless rollout of 5G.

Sunil David, Director (IoT), AT&T said, ” The previous ‘Gs’ were confined to mobile, while 5G will see device plurality and that’s why it’s a revolutionary technology that will touch many devices.”

As we look at session on “Building Blocks’, it deliberated on getting the right policies, technologies, and business cases to kick start 5G and the challenges. Setting a broader context for both the operators as well as for 5G evolution, N.Sivasailam, Special Secretary, DoT said, ” The National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) 2018 has been approved. And this is going to usher in a futuristic roadmap for the industry as well as more accountability in areas like Right of Way (RoW). With regards to 5G, we need a fix on use cases and 5G deployments. The industry has to translate the policy into practice by providing more implementations at ground zero. They need to stop talking about policy and start talking about deployments.”

Amit Marwah, CMO, Nokia Networks said, ” With 5G the whole paradigm changes and it’s happening much earlier than predicted and it’s a classic case of supply creating the demand. “ I am bullish about 5G adoption not only globally but in India as well,” he said.

Other speakers on the panel are: P.Balaji, Chief Regulatory & Corporate Affairs Officer, Vodafone Idea, Sandeep Gupta, EVP; Radio Network, Bharti Airtel; Sanjay Kaul, President, SP Business Cisco (APJ) agreed with views on the need for aggressive 5G adoption and shared their insights on how an ecosystem-based approach will help tide over the challenges and better adherence to the policies that will hasten 5G adoption.

The session on Unlocking 5G Revenues Potential, discussed on how will 5G add new revenues streams for operators as well business users, here, Rajesh Gangadhar, Head of Wireless Broadband Converged Platforms, Sterlite Technologies gave an industry perspective. He touched on 3 key areas: He said that an expanded ecosystem of apps and how data is driving 5G and the need for highly dense fiberized Infrastructure, which is the key to 5G. He also talked about the need for the evolution to hybrid networks.

The key panel speakers in this session are Dr. Rishi Bhatnagar, President, Aeris Communications; Sridhar Kris, COO, Tikona Telecom; Amit Sinha Roy, Senior VP, Marketing & Strategy, Tata Communications; Mudit Agarwal, EVP Strategy & Planning, Vodafone and Rajesh Gangadharan . The panel was moderated by Nitin Arora, Director, Strategy, PwC  and they unanimously agreed on the fact that 5G will create more revenue opportunities, but challenges are many and operators need to take a customer first approach.

In the session Technology & Infrastructure Preparedness for 5G, the panelists deliberated on how ready are 5G tech & infra companies and operators in India for deployment? This panel was moderated by Sukante De, Former President, Tata Teleservices. This panel had names like Alka Asthana, CTO, Bharti Infratel, Shanker Iyer, Chief Marketing & Sales Officer Indus Towers, Brajesh Jain, Shyam Spectra and others agreed on the fibirisation as the key to technology preparedness.

The last session was on 5G Interoperability & Spectrum was moderated by Arvind Bali, CEO, Videocon Telecom and the panel had names like Vipin Tyagi, Executive Director, C-Dot; Parag Kar, VP, Government Affairs; R K Bahuguna, Advisor, Gurugram Metropolitan Dev Authority and Pankaj Rana, head -Mobility, Panasonic. This panel deliberated on the issues relating to 5G rollout and the need for quality spectrum and the escalation of fiberization.


At the end of the day, the key takeaways of this conference are about taking a due diligence of 5G and how path breaking it is. It, on the other hand, took an appraisal of India’s preparedness and the opportunities and challenges it poses to operators. The government on its part has given a direction in its NDCP and one can only expect that India will take an early lead in this path-breaking 5G evolution.

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