In its 1st episode of techFLIX special series on Covid-19 and its impact on the digital industry in India organised by techARC in collaboration with COAI, the telecom leaders saluted the efforts of the fraternity for braving the conditions to keep the networks up and implement necessary changes on-the-go to augment capacities due to unprecedented increase in the demand for digital services enabled by telecommunications.
Rajan S Mathews, DG, COAI on behalf of the industry thanked the central government as well as the state governments for providing all support to the industry helping movement of their personnel as well as the equipment to bring in the necessary changes in the network configurations to meet the unprecedented demand. He said, “With the timely intervention of the Department of Telecommunications and coordination with various state and local authorities, the defunct BTS sites were brought down from 800 to 70 increasing the capacities substantially.”
Representing Vodafone Idea Limited, P Balaji, Chief Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Officer shared number of hardships, which the operator had to face during the lockdown to keep the network up and running. Balaji said, “There are several unsung heroes who toiled day and night travelling several kilometres to perform the necessary network tasks giving relief to enterprise as well as individual customers of the operator at a time when the telecom connectivity is the only means of communication.”
From the telecom equipment providers, Amit Marwah, Head of Marketing and Corporate Affairs for Nokia India said, “We swiftly extended all global best practices and learnings to the India telecom ecosystem by realigning the portfolio on the three principles of Secure, Scale and Stimulate giving the operator community an immediate resolution of the challenges and linking them with the likely future requirements.” Nokia had done a mock drill of Business Continuity Plan with their operator customers 2-3 weeks ahead of the lockdown as well as set up a VPN gateway in Mumbai on emergency basis.”
Ankit Agarwal, CEO Connectivity Solutions, STL participating in this special techFLIX episode said, “We saw 30-50% jump in the traffic of our customers and these new patterns are going to stay even beyond the Covid-19 situation. This means there has to be a substantial investment in networks, especially on the fibre deployments which can charge the last mile connectivity with the requisite power to support such shifts in data consumption patterns.” He, while appreciating the efforts of the government in handling the pandemic situation, said that for the long term benefits the government will also have to invest in the telecom sector to expedite growth meeting the customers’ requirements.”
Taking part in the deliberations, Sachin Kalantri, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Qualcomm India said, “We have been able to handle the situation due to a symbiotic endeavour put in by the telecom operators, device OEMs and the app ecosystem. While connectivity and apps are available to the consumers, device fulfilment is a challenge impacting the productivity of people directly.” He further added that our homes have become our offices, schools, hospitals and every possible organisation we may need to interface with.”
Moderating the live panel discussion with attendance from industry fraternity, media, start-ups and students, Faisal Kawoosa, Founder & Chief Analyst, techARC said, “The workplace equation has flipped where instead of making employees feel homely, people are looking at office infrastructure within homes and telecom is making that happen. Going forward, technologies like 5G shall play a vital role in further enhancing work from anywhere experience.”
The key takeaways of the panel discussion were: –
- Government is playing an enabling role in helping the industry offer connectivity to citizens efficiently.
- The entire telecom fraternity is working in hardship like any other sectors who are front-ending in the field.
- Operators are not looking at their available resources but giving priority to what their customers require most at the moment.
- There is a need to have further investments in the sector with participation from the government as well.
- Government must look into the requests of the sector empowering them to serve the customers more efficiently.
- The role of new technologies like 5G, IoT, Industry 4.0, FTTX, etc., is only going to be significant in near future aiding the new normal.
- Many of the patterns and trends that have emerged during the pandemic situation are going to stay and the telecom sector needs to get prepared for that.
- Applications like Tele-medicine, E-Education, Drone Surveillance and Industry 4.0 are going to see a surge in consumption.
Every participant highlighted the significance of telecommunications in supporting the economic as well as social activities that are being delivered to the citizens during the lockdown while they are following the government advisory of staying at home to break the chain of spreading the virus. Telecommunications was recognised as the backbone of economy. techARC estimates that other than over 6% direct contribution of the sector to the GDP, telecommunications are currently enabling 30-35% of the GDP by delivering services and helping people stay productive while at home.