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From 5G to AI-How technology is driving the growth of telecommunications

India has become the fastest-growing economy in the world. The World Bank has stated that India’s economy is anticipated to grow at the quickest rate among the seven largest EMDEs, even though this growth is forecast dropped to 6.9 percent in FY23 and 6.6 percent in FY24. The scope of coverage of telecom has grown multi-fold to incorporate aspects of manufacturing, services, and integration of software thereby seeding itself as an essential component of this growth.

The biggest talking point has to be 5G. All major carriers in India have implemented 5G nationally. New labs are being created to allow R&D in 5G, AI, and other telecom use cases. The affordability of 5G smartphones has also enhanced with entry-level devices costing as low as INR 10,000. The most popular smartphones over the last few years are 5G enabled, and this segment was always leading the 5G consumer wave.

The integration of software in telecom has shifted my perspective on telecom a lot. Traditional methods are being replaced through network virtualization. By divorcing network services from the underlying hardware, this technology enables the virtual provisioning of complete networks through software. As a result, the physical network is transformed into software-defined offerings that can be delivered more efficiently.

Another intervention aimed at enhancing efficiency and responsiveness is edge computing. It brings processing power and data storage closer to end users or devices which generate and consume data, allowing faster data processing. By moving computing resources to the edge or consumer, organizations can better manage, process, and analyse data, and deliver new and innovative services to their customers.

The deployment of fibre optic networks is set to continue as rural connectivity demand is increasing. India is expanding its fiberization to over 35 lakh kilometres, as per an industry body of telecom infrastructure providers, to facilitate 5G networks, edge data centres, and small cells by 2025.

IoT devices and applications will continue to grow, leading to an increased demand for reliable and secure connectivity. International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that there will be 41.6 billion IoT devices by 2025, capable of generating 79.4 zettabytes (ZB) of data. The need to modify technology is constant as the industry grows and advancements are achieved.

AI and ML will play a significant role in automating various processes in the telecom industry. The global market for artificial intelligence in telecommunications, which was valued at USD 1.2 billion in 2021, is anticipated to expand to USD 38.8 billion by 2031, at a CAGR of 41.4 percent. India’s AI market is expected to witness a growth of 20 percent by 2028. Given the increasing number of connected devices, sensitive information being transmitted over networks, and also the increasing threat of cyber-attacks, cybersecurity will be a priority for telecom companies in 2023 with a focus on securing telecom networks and ensuring the privacy of customer data.

I am fascinated by how immersive content has a strong presence across domains like digital marketing, education, and other related services. VR and AR will become more widely adopted. Drone applications are also expanding with the National Drone Policy and Digital Sky Platform aimed at expanding the offerings around drone technology. Telecom is part and parcel of the connected drones which will be used as extensions of human resources to navigate difficult terrain and play a pivotal role in terrain mapping, agri-tech solutions, and remote surveillance.

Technological advancements and innovation aside, I believe one thing that holds equal importance to this is the expansion of the workforce responsible for executing these initiatives. We at Telecom Sector Skill Council have enabled a framework that incorporates the government, telecom industry, and academia to align the best talent to the industry. This talent is cultivated from the ground up across both urban and rural segments to give equal opportunity for the youth to shine and become ambassadors of India to the world.

I am a staunch proponent of the equality of opportunity for all. We are sitting on a goldmine of bright young talent and our industry can offer them a better life both personally and professionally. I am indebted to this opportunity to serve the young minds of our great nation to overcome challenges and emerge as leaders in the space of telecom and skill development.

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