Telcos can’t rely on consumer business in 5G era: COAI’s Kochhar

ET Telecom, August 17, 2022

Telecom service providers would not depend on consumer business purely due to low average revenue per user as they prepare to roll out fifth generation or 5G networks, India’s telco group Wednesday said.

“Telcos are prepared to rollout (5G) networks. Average revenue per user (ARPU) is less, and relying on consumer business won’t work,” SP Kochhar, director general, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said.

Delhi-based COAI represents Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

“We can clearly see that 5G is application centric. Apps will emerge. Telcos will come up with new businesses to exploit networks,” he said, adding that the telecom carriers expect enterprises to tailor their networks.

Kochhar was speaking at a seminar organised by CUTS International together with the Australian Risk Policy Institute (ARPI), and International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IITB).

The telco group said that network slicing and edge computing would have a greater role in the 5G landscape.

Recently, the Centre sold as much as 71% airwaves for Rs 1,50,173 crore across multiple bands.

New entrant Adani Networks spent Rs 212 crore to acquire 400 MHz in the 26 GHz band, and it is expected to put up captive networks across business locations.

The next generation networks by private telecom carriers, according to the telecom department, are likely to be functional from October this year.

In the 6G era, the convergence between technologies would happen, according to him.

Bharat Bhatia, president ITU-APT Foundation of India (IAFI) said that regional bodies play an important role in ITU-WRC conferences as they are tasked to propose common papers for the UN body.

“6G is going to be a game changer as we talk about Internet of Senses and cognitive networks,” Bhatia said, adding that India and Australia have a great way forward in coming to a solution for spectrum.

ITU-APT Foundation of India is sector member of the ITU Radio sector (ITU-R), ITU Development Sector (ITU-D) and ITU Telecommunication Standardisation Sector (ITU- T) and affiliate member of Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT), and also advocates on matters related to satellite communications.

Mahesh Uppal, industry veteran and director at Com First India said that the industry would need flexibility in 5G and 6G technologies. “6G will have a lot of applications across sectors besides telecom. 6G will have a lot of functionalities, and perspectives of consumers, industry and national security play an important role,” Uppal said.

Further, Com First top executive said that the telecom levies which are nothing but an additional tax, actually resist reforms in the telecom domain.

Uppal feels that an industry-friendly regulatory and legislative regime would be an essential ingredient for a success story.

“Currently, in handsets, we have 6-7% value addition by companies which is low, and can be at least increased to 15% and more. Foxconn has set up an excellence centre in IIT Madras and the next handset will come from here,” Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Institute Professor at Indian Institute of Technology, Madras said.

“Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) 5G together with Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) will give a boost,” Jhunjhunwala said, adding that Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea continue to import equipment since they want to deploy proven systems.

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