It is hard to believe that 3G was launched only a few years back and while operators had not been able to exploit it to the fullest, here comes 4G.
Telecom Industry has experienced various hiccups during the last decade, be it the 123rd country to launch 3G or among few to launch 4G services. All these technology changes have resulted in revamping of the telecom operators’ network to provide cutting-edge technology.
The year 2016 will be seen as the year of 4G introduction to India. All major operators have launched there 4G services (where they have spectrum) to compete with the new entrant Reliance Jio and retain their market share. New competition always introduces new challenges in the market. Before Jio, no operator was ready for 4G and neither was the eco system, but everyone had launched it before Jio without much of an ecosystem developed for the technology.
It is hard to believe that 3G was launched only a few years back and while operators had not been able to exploit it to the fullest, here comes 4G. Huge investments were made by the operators for 3G but now 4G seems to have taken over it.
To support the rollout and services, operators have revamped their networks – firstly from TDM to Ethernet and now to IP. This migration was necessary to support huge data growth. While voice still remains the bread and butter for operators, data is the big change.
Almost all operators have seen data traffic growth exponentially, and to support it further, the networks are getting knitted on modern technology. Earlier, mobile telephony was in its simplex form. The BTS were connected directly to BSC on TDM and now we have cell site routers which decide the routing of the traffic, based on its type.
The major challenge for doing these changes was equally borne by the infra providers. To support multiple technologies, the loading issue on the tower was the major challenge faced. This has resulted in introducing pole-mount sites and multiport antennas (same antenna can be used to support various frequency bands/multiple technologies).
After investing so much on network and infra, the operators were busy increasing their market share to sustain and earn. The new operator Jio has made the market more volatile. It has launched its services free of cost for the next
6 months, thus forcing other operators to reduce the data packages drastically to sustain ground. TRAI has ruled that services cannot be sold for free, but reducing the data packages has increased the ROI for all operators.
The year 2016 also witnessed some major
mergers – Aircel and MTS to R Com.
To meet out the investments in the telecom industry, the operators have diversified their business so that they can leverage on the investments made. All operators have now become the part of enterprise business. They design solutions and sell bandwidth for enterprise/ILL (Internet lease line) to industries to increase their revenue. Some operators have also formed a parallel new entity of their infra – this has been done to raise funds for investment in telecom.
In the coming year 2017, it will be interesting to watch how operators manage to deal with Jio. Also it will be interesting to see how Jio manages its accountability after making such a huge investment and being the last one to enter the market, yet ready to invest further. The dynamics of the telecom industry is very hard to understand but survival of the fittest will be the mantra to sustain in the market.