Telecom in India has been one of the most robust sectors, that has evolved with time and played a vital role in shaping the country’s vibrant economy.
Indian mobile service sector’s contribution towards GDP is projected to touch 8.2 percent by 2020, according to a study by global telecom industry association, GSMSA. At present, India is the world’s second-largest telecommunication market and has registered a robust growth in the past decade and a half. With over a billion connections, telecom in India is the second largest in the world.
But it hasn't been a cake walk for the sector all together. There have been issues of availability, reliability and stability resulting in degradation, due to call drops and data choke points. Telecom companies have been in heavy debt due to high cost paid for 3G and 4G spectrum and the lowest average revenue per user in India. Capex investment too for 3G and 4G remain at a premium at national level due to business concerns.
Telecom companies have their role cut out in overcoming heavy headwinds. They have to invest in infrastructure and innovative technology to smoothen the customer experience.
CIO India spoke to three CIOs from the telecom industry: Rajesh Rampal, CIO, Aircel; Avinash Mittal, CIO, Uninor India; Balakrishnan V, senior VP and head IT–Enterprise, Reliance Jio Infocomm, on the role of technology accelerating innovation in the telecom industry, disruptive technologies in 2017 and their priorities this year.
How can technology can play a key role in accelerating innovation in the telecom industry?
Rajesh Rampal:Technology plays a crucial role. Telecom helps in connectivity and IT helps in innovation. Smart cities will result in many opportunities for telecom providers. For instance, in a smart city, there will be street lights with sim cards which get operated via wifi, and lights get switched off at 6:00 am. Such kind of innovations happen only through IT.
Avinash Mittal: Technology is a key enabler in the telecom market. Technology helps in value addition in terms of street to market and adds quality. On the whole, it is about creating differentiation in the market along with business.
Balakrishnan: Our teams are working on healthcare, home automation, IoT, Jio chat and cloud.
Which technology is going to be the most disruptive in telecom industry in 2017?
Rampal: Virtualization will be the most disruptive in the telecom industry in 2017. It helps one to optimize the network and save cost.
Mittal: First, IoT will be disruptive in years to come, but not sure if it will take off in 2017. Second, cognitive analysis will help in customer service. Third, software-defined networking and networking function virtualization (NFV) will be the focus area of the telecom industry in 2017.
Balakrishnan: Aadhaar-based biometric identification will be the most disruptive technology in 2017.
As a CIO, what are your priorities for the year ahead?
Rampal: Consolidation and optimization are going to be my major priorities in 2017. Consolidation means running on a few servers instead of many in a virtualized environment. It helps one to earn more.
Mittal: My priority this year would to make sure that business and technology co-innovate and deliver in an agile and quick manner.
Balakrishnan: My priority will be to focus on micro segmentation. There will be a segmentation of end user devices and tools. To ensure security, we are building customized rules for a group of people in our organization. For instance, the different kinds of mail attachments which can be dropped.