2019 is poised to be a transformative year. Enterprise realize that technology is defined in their future strategies and is not an optional cost anymore, it is really at the heart of what every entity is doing around the world.
As we step into 2019, network operators are preparing systems to support dramatically greater device density and data throughput, and they will be getting new analytics about their infrastructure use from the network itself. Together, these new capabilities will make networks into even more important assets that businesses will leverage in ways that we have not yet begun to realize.
Network quality will be a key success factor for retaining customers. Telcos have continuously been investing in network augmentation and they will continue to do so in 2019 by implementing Massive MIMO and various other technologies, thus maintaining the CapEx-to-revenue ratio at 25 percent. The focus of operators will shift from subscriber market share to higher ARPUs, a critical profitability indicator, keeping overall subscriber growth muted. With less than 25 percent towers fiberized against global standards of 70-80 percent, fiber leasing is heading toward an Rs 18,000 crore market by FY20, and fiberized towers are expected to increase from 90,000 to 330,000.
The media content space in India is also likely to undergo a disruption, with the availability of cheaper and abundant data under unlimited plans leading to increased consumption of content on mobile devices.
The tussle between the government and the operators is expected to continue. The government expects a 5.8 percent increase in 2019-20, at Rs 41,519.76 crore; collection for 2018-19 having fallen short of Rs 9416.42 crore at Rs 39,245 crore from the budgeted provision of Rs 48,661.42 crore. It is looking at making up its shortfall through special audits for understating revenue, and a possible spectrum sale after August 2019. The debt-ridden carriers, in no shape to support a 5G spectrum sale, are seeking GST refunds to the tune of Rs 35,000 crore, a two-year moratorium request on their deferred-payment obligations for spectrum bought in the past, alongwith a reduction in the current 9 percent interest rate.
Of course, achieving a balance between technology and investments is no mean feat!