The telecom industry around the world is redefining communication services more frequently than ever. The bandwidth promised by newer technologies is setting new benchmarks rapidly.
The convergence of telecom and information technology brings out the need for innovation, competition, and investment in networks, as well as in services, content, applications, and operating systems. India, lagging behind in technology adoption, will have to leapfrog to future technologies. This is the essence of Digital Revolution: Forward Path for Telecom, a recent report released by CII-Deloitte.
The world is moving toward 5G technology, while India is struggling to adopt 3G/4G. Lack of technology ecosystems, relevant content and services, affordable 4G-enabled handsets, and delayed government processes like right of way and permissions are causing delay in launch of 4G services and greater penetration of 3G. Other challenges for operators include low ARPU, high investment in spectrum and infrastructure, low tariff, and a highly competitive market. Network upgrade and maintenance costs continue to escalate with mounting data traffic, forcing operators to optimize network utilization.
Going forward, intensifying competition, slowing revenue growth, and increasing network costs could compel telecom operators to deploy advanced technology solutions, and that may provide the much required new revenue streams. Rise of data-based services like Internet of Things, e-commerce, and social networking could generate huge data traffic. Analytic solutions could help in reducing network costs and retaining customers.
Telecom operators will need to balance short- and long-term goals. They will have to discover innovative business models collaborating and co-operating with each other leading to a win-win situation for all players in the value chain. This can only be achieved with timely and appropriate regulatory support from the government with light touch regulations, funding support, and liberal tax reforms to encourage domestic and international players. There is need for a paradigm shift in the telecom market to raise the bandwidth from current unacceptable levels of few kbps in India to the global benchmarks of several Mbps. Providing affordable better connectivity and device availability could go a long way in the growth and prosperity of the country.