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2024-Telecom trends in India

India’s dynamic telecom industry is readying itself for a massive growth period in the coming year. The evolving needs of enterprises as well as consumers in the country are leading to the transformation of networks and adoption of smarter solutions fit for businesses. On the other hand, the industry must expand rural connectivity to address the need for quality connectivity in the country’s underserved regions and unserved regions.

The coming year promises to be an exciting one as these trends solidify, and the country’s communication industry further adopts measures to improve connectivity to support our digital lifestyles.

Some key predictions for 2024

Inflection point for 5G
After launching 5G services in October 2022, Indian telcos have deployed 385,888 base stations across the country, making it one of the fastest 5G rollouts anywhere in the world. The deployment of 5G across the country is likely to power up to 2 percent of India’s GDP, amounting to USD180 billion by 2030, according to NASSCOM. 5G is an important platform for innovation to enable new applications and use cases – which were not feasible in the era of 4G.

As we move closer to achieving pan-India coverage of 5G services, we are looking at almost every industry being touched by 5G, and trials are already actively taking place across many sectors. The question on everyone’s mind is – how can telcos monetize their 5G investments? Before we can answer this question, we need to bear in mind that 4G monetization only took off after the pandemic, when videos and applications suddenly took precedence in our everyday lives. That took almost a decade. We do not know when 5G monetization will become the norm but I predict that it will likely take half the time or less.

Rural connectivity growth
Even if consumers are not using 5G, the growing number of internet users and the data consumption per user in rural India points to a latent demand for data. In addition, this growth is likely to continue, with 56 percent of new users likely to come from rural parts of the country by 2025, as per the recent study by IAMAI and Kantar. All this means that the telcos may have to rethink their strategy for rural India.

As the rural subscriber population continues to grow, with bandwidth requirements increasing, the existing Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) networks might emerge as a bottleneck to meet the long-term needs of the rural consumer. 10-Gigabit Symmetrical PON (XGS-PON) is emerging as a more future-proof option, especially for new fiber deployments since it is easier and more cost-effective to upgrade as bandwidth consumption continues to surge in rural India.

Enterprise adoption of more adaptive networks
Looking at businesses, Indian enterprises are also demanding the highest level of network performance for cloud-based services and applications. They are looking for open, best-in-breed networks that help them scale rapidly and cost-effectively, while increasing network transport and switching capacities. All this may not be possible with legacy networks and is leading to a growing interest in adaptive networks by enterprises to ensure the best possible network performance. In fact, the boundaries between service providers and enterprises are slowly blurring.

Networks that have been time-tested to ensure extreme reliability with at least 99.9 percent uptime help improve scalability, agility, and flexibility, for best-in-class network performance is the need of the hour. Adaptive network infrastructure would allow enterprises to quickly and sustainably scale to improve response to a dynamically evolving situation. With 5G opening doors to new business models and opportunities, networks must be agile and flexible to ensure optimum performance at all times. At the same time, enterprises need to confident in the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their network services to protect the end-to-end transport of critical data.

Rise of converged and sustainable networks
Changing market dynamics are opening new and exciting growth opportunities for the India telecommunications industry, and we are at the tip of the iceberg. For instance, we have not even begun to explore the full impact of Generative Artificial Intelligence and its impact on our networks. And, we are only at the precipice of edge networking.

What is definite is that the fundamental demand drivers for bandwidth remain strong – network modernization is on the agenda for all Indian service providers. They are looking at IP/optical convergence to simplify their networks and improve network performance, addressing the growing expectations of digital users.

There is also a renewed focus across the industry to decarbonize operations and accelerate the journey to net-zero targets. To this end, telcos and enterprises are looking at deploying sustainable products and solutions to bring down carbon emissions. This movement is going to continue gathering momentum in the coming year.

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