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5G Perspective

Exclusive Interview – Pardeep Kohli

While countries that matter expect 5G to reach critical mass next year, India is still struggling with the spectrum auction. Please comment.

In the last four years, the Indian telecom sector has witnessed consolidation of operators due to stiff competition and low tariff rates for data and voice business, which were the main driving factors of operators’ revenue stream.

With the introduction of 5G, the allocation of usable frequency range for 5G services was granted between 3.3 and 3.6 GHz band, i.e., 300 MHz of available airwaves. Under this allocation, defense and ISRO have been allocated 100 MHz and 25 MHz of bandwidth for security and satellite communication, respectively.

Therefore, the usable bandwidth available for operators to offer 5G services is 175 MHz. With the current state of competition among telecom operators in India, any imbalance in 5G spectrum allocation among existing operators will worsen the already debt industry, which might lead to further consolidation of operators and further impact the telecom sector economics.

I am of the strong view that Indian telecommunication sector needs an impetus and governmental support, besides support from the telecom regulator, when it comes to 5G in particular. Adequate spectrum availability, for example, is one of the important factors in the success of 5G in India.

While the Government of India has already taken some initiatives along with major telecom service providers to facilitate 5G trials, I am hopeful the government will soon draft new policies for 5G spectrum allocation with adequate airwaves to keep parity among existing operators and revive the telecom industry.

Operators are struggling with profitability; they’re struggling with network architectures that are hierarchical and now is the time to introduce change. And that includes broadening the supplier ecosystem. Please comment.

With introduction of 4G LTE, the telecom operators have realized the need of cloud-centric approach to quickly adapt to market’s changing requirement, and to offer services rapidly.

The operators have taken a leap to migrate the network infrastructure toward cloud-centric deployment models, which has helped them to align themselves to upcoming 5G network requirement demanding network slicing and stateless architecture.

By building a stronger network infrastructure supporting future network requirements, the operators have started realizing the benefits of reduction in CapEx and OpEx along with shorter delivery time to new market opportunities.

Will we see the adoption of Open RAN, and if yes, please comment in detail vis-a-vis Airtel, Vodafone-Idea, and Jio (and BSNL).

Readiness for 5G ecosystem has made operators realize the need for cloud-native solutions, which provide the benefits of agility, shorter time to market, and quick adaptation to the changing environment.

The biggest benefit, which this transformation has provided, is in respect of reducing the operator’s CapEx and OpEx, a necessity to drive profit margins in today’s competitive market.

Operators have started getting sense of moving to a virtualized RAN solution, which can meet the current high-speed data needs and can deliver most 5G features, including network slicing, NFV, edge computing, and massive MIMO, at a much lower cost and greater flexibility.

With 5G developments gathering pace, we believe the move to an OpenRAN architecture may be even more urgent. We are already in trials in India for Open RAN.

Mavenir’s mission is to be a software-driven, end-to-end mobile network provider. Please comment on how you can be that in India.

Mavenir with its comprehensive portfolio of virtualized network elements and cloud-centric approach, including 5GC , Open RAN, vEPC, vIMS, RCS business messaging, and security, offers a favorable choice to the operators today to adapt to the changing needs of the telecom ecosystem to reap the financial benefits today by lowering the CapEx and OpEx involved in deploying and managing the purpose-built hardware-centric platform and preparing themselves for new use cases demanding network slicing, NFV, and edge computing.

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