9 FAC­TORS PUSH­ING GROWTH IN ICT SEC­TOR

ICT con­nec­tiv­ity is a key fac­tor for a di­verse coun­try like In­dia for cre­at­ing an in­clu­sive so­ci­ety and fos­ter­ing holis­tic development. BK Jha analy­ses the chal­lenges and prospects of the sec­tor

Rural & Marketing - - FRONT PAGE -

ICT in­fra­struc­ture has been play­ing a sig­nif­i­cant role in over­all so­cio-eco­nomic development glob­ally. In­dia has one of the fastest grow­ing telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor with over 1.1 bil­lion con­nec­tions and is the sec­ond largest in the world. The com­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vices avail­able in the coun­try are com­pa­ra­ble to the best in the world and ma­jor tech­nol­ogy shifts like 3G, 4G/LTE have been adopted in line with the de­vel­oped world. The sec­tor con­tin­ues to grow rapidly and is amongst the largest con­trib­u­tors to the In­dian econ­omy’s GDP and is also one of the sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tors to FDI in In­dia. The foun­da­tion of this land­mark growth has been pos­si­ble only through an ex­ten­sive In­for­ma­tion, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Tech­nol­ogy (ICT) in­fra­struc­ture across the coun­try.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent report by KPMG on “Build­ing ICT In­fra­struc­ture - Con­nect­ing the un­con­nected,” ini­tially ICT in­fra­struc­ture de­ploy­ment was largely driven by the need to pro­vide af­ford­able voice tele­phony ser­vices. The growth of

ICT in­fra­struc­ture sec­tor has been linked to the adop­tion of a unique busi­ness model of pas­sive i.e. Tower in­fra­struc­ture shar­ing. The model is meant to drive ef­fi­cien­cies and syn­er­gies and the era of mul­ti­ple op­er­a­tors al­lowed that to hap­pen very suc­cess­fully lead­ing to up­front sav­ings in Capex and time to mar­ket. This model has been adopted across sev­eral ge­ogra­phies glob­ally.

Cur­rently, the coun­try is wit­ness­ing an era of ex­plo­sive growth in data and in­vest­ments in newer tech­nolo­gies like 5G, In­ter­net of Things (IoT), Ma­chine to Ma­chine (M2M), data cen­ters, mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions and cloud tech­nolo­gies are tak­ing place. Ad­di­tion­ally, the In­dian Gov­ern­ment has ini­ti­ated sev­eral

pro­grammes such as Dig­i­tal In­dia, Smart Cities and BharatNet to en­sure data con­nec­tiv­ity for the masses and to ‘con­nect the un­con­nected’. The suc­cess of th­ese pro­grammes and adop­tion of new tech­nolo­gies is highly de­pen­dent on the rapid de­ploy­ment of re­li­able and sus­tain­able ICT In­fra­struc­ture that pro­vides un­in­ter­rupted and qual­ity ser­vices at break­through speed.

Although there is no sin­gle, uni­ver­sal def­i­ni­tion of ICT in­fra­struc­ture, in the present form, it can be de­fined as a com­bi­na­tion of all pas­sive and ac­tive net­works, fi­bre and as­so­ci­ated equip­ment needed to pro­vide voice and broad­band data con­nec­tiv­ity. The key play­ers in this sec­tor in­clude the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Ser­vice Providers (TSP), Tele­com In­fra­struc­ture Providers (IP-1s), equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers and fiber play­ers. ICT in­fra­struc­ture can be broadly di­vided into two types – Core and En­abling in­fra­struc­ture. Core

in­fra­struc­ture in­cludes all the hard­ware needed for net­work de­ploy­ment and con­nec­tiv­ity. The en­abling In­fra­struc­ture would in­clude all the soft­ware needed to en­able the core in­fra­struc­ture to charge up and work to de­liver the ser­vices to cus­tomers.

Gov­ern­ment’s ini­tia­tives

“ICT con­nec­tiv­ity is a key fac­tor for a di­verse coun­try like In­dia for cre­at­ing an in­clu­sive so­ci­ety and fos­ter­ing holis­tic development. The gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to cre­ate a strong ICT in­fra­struc­ture and bridg­ing the dig­i­tal di­vide in ru­ral and ur­ban In­dia,” said Manoj Sinha, Min­is­ter of State for Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. He also out­lined con­ducive pol­icy and ad­min­is­tra­tive mea­sures in­clud­ing fa­cil­i­ta­tion of spec­trum shar­ing and trad­ing, Right of Way (RoW) pol­icy, cre­at­ing op­tic fiber net­works, mo­bile in­fra­struc­ture and shared mo­bile tow­ers.

“There is a need for need for de­ploy­ing eco-friendly in­fra­struc­ture and us­ing re­new­able energy for sus­tain­able growth of this sec­tor. We urge the tele­com in­dus­try for the upgra­da­tion of mo­bile net­works,” he added.

RS Sharma, Chair­man, Tele­com Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity of In­dia (TRAI) said, “In­dia has reached un­fore­seen bench­marks in many ar­eas of tech­nol­ogy like soft­ware and Aad­har. A new thrust has been laid upon trans­form­ing In­dia into

Manoj Sinha Min­is­ter of State for Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, GoI ICT con­nec­tiv­ity is a key fac­tor for In­dia for cre­at­ing an in­clu­sive so­ci­ety. The govt is com­mit­ted to cre­ate a strong ICT in­fra­struc­ture and bridg­ing the dig­i­tal di­vide in ru­ral and ur­ban In­dia

Umang Das Chair­man, CII Sub-com­mit­tee on Tele­com In­fra­struc­ture The in­fra­struc­ture is based on cost op­ti­miza­tion and rapid in­fra­struc­ture de­ploy­ment in far flung ar­eas. The model needs to be ex­panded to achieve broad­band for all. There should be align­ment of poli­cies RS Sharma Chair­man, TRAI In­dia has reached un­fore­seen bench­marks in many ar­eas of tech­nol­ogy like soft­ware and Aad­haar. A new thrust has been laid upon trans­form­ing In­dia into a dig­i­tal econ­omy and a cash­less so­ci­ety

a dig­i­tal econ­omy and a cash­less so­ci­ety. All th­ese call for ro­bust base in­fra­struc­ture on which trans­for­ma­tive, newer ini­tia­tives can ride.”

The Dig­i­tal In­dia Mis­sion calls for im­prov­ing the dig­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture, de­mand of soft­ware and ser­vices and dig­i­tal em­pow­er­ment of cit­i­zens. The com­mon duct pol­icy by the TRAI is a mea­sure in that direction.

No doubt, the Gov­ern­ment is fo­cus in con­nect­ing vil­lages and dis­tricts and cre­at­ing fiber ways, much like high­ways and road­ways. But there is need to work with the state gov­ern­ments in fa­cil­i­tat­ing this all over In­dia, right up to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity level.

The In­dus­try gears up

Mritun­jay Ka­pur, Na­tional Head of Risk Con­sult­ing, KPMG, said that In­dia’s tele­com sec­tor has achieved tremen­dous growth in 2G & 3G, rid­ing on the back of

pas­sive in­fra­struc­ture. “The sec­tor is poised to set off to even higher growth tra­jec­tory with tech­nolo­gies like In­ter­net of Things (IoT), M2M, wire­less broad­band, dig­i­tal

pay­ments, which call for a stronger dig­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture ecosys­tem,” he added.

Umang Das, Chair­man, CII Com­mit­tee on Tele­com In­fra­struc­ture, said, “The in­fra­struc­ture is based on cost op­ti­miza­tion and rapid in­fra­struc­ture de­ploy­ment in far flung ar­eas. The model needs to be ex­panded to achieve broad­band for all. There should be align­ment of poli­cies between cen­tral and state gov­ern­ments, li­censes must be re­viewed and re­vis­ited and is­sues aris­ing out of GST need to be ad­dressed.”

Con­nect­ing Pan­chay­ats & TRAI Rec­om­men­da­tions

To make broad­band a core util­ity to cit­i­zens, the TRAI has rec­om­mended to the Gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment BharatNet in the PPP mode to con­nect 250000 gram pan­chay­ats across the coun­try.

In­dia’s tele­den­sity is at 89 per cent with a tower net­work of over 450,000 tow­ers and a fiber net­work of over 1.25 mil­lion kilo­me­ters Data pen­e­tra­tion in In­dia to drive in­vest­ment of about 70 bil­lion USD in the next 7-10 years’ How­ever, In­dia’s tele­den­sity in ru­ral mo­bile in­ter­net is only 12.98 per cent

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