‘We are well po­si­tioned to sup­port In­dia’s ‘Broad­band for All’ am­bi­tion’ —Ulf Pehrs­son

Vice Pres­i­dent, Head of Govern­ment and In­dus­try Re­la­tions, Eric­s­son

Voice&Data - - CONTENT - Kr­ishna Mukher­jee x-kr­ish­nam@cy­berme­dia.co.in

ICT so­lu­tions provider Eric­s­son is in con­stant di­a­logue with the govern­ment, reg­u­la­tor, and in­dus­try bod­ies in In­dia to fruc­tify ‘Broad­band for All’ dream. In an in­ter­ac­tion with Voice&Data, Ulf Pehrs­son, Vice Pres­i­dent, Head of Govern­ment and In­dus­try Re­la­tions, Eric­s­son, talks about the need for re­leas­ing more spec­trum and im­por­tance of fiber for re­al­iz­ing In­dia’s broad­band dreams.

Voice&Data: How do you see the ‘Broad­band for All’ dream ac­tu­ally fruc­ti­fy­ing in In­dia?

Ulf Pehrs­son: Of course, we look very pos­i­tively to the In­dia sit­u­a­tion and now more spec­trum is be­com­ing avail­able to the mar­ket which is ab­so­lutely fun­da­men­tal for mo­bile phones.

More and more spec­trum should be brought to the mar­ket and we know that will hap­pen as we ex­pect it (spec­trum auc­tions) in 2016. But of course, there are other chal­lenges in or­der to re­ally con­nect ev­ery­one and you also need to ad­dress is­sues such as ‘right of way’. Fiber is also very im­por­tant, and it’s not mo­bile wire­less or fiber, they are in­ter­de­pen­dent. At the same time, avail­abil­ity of sites is also very cru­cial.

Voice&Data: How is Eric­s­son play­ing a role in In­dia’s broad­band dream?

Ulf Pehrs­son: We are the ma­jor provider of mo­bile net­works in In­dia and of course,

we have a strong legacy hav­ing been here for more than 110 years. And as you may know In­dia is now the largest base for Eric­s­son in the whole world with more than 20,000 em­ploy­ees in the coun­try.

So, I think we are very well po­si­tioned to con­tinue to sup­port In­dia in work­ing to­wards reach­ing the am­bi­tion of ‘Broad­band for All’.

Here, the govern­ment can also play an im­por­tant role from the pol­icy side by mak­ing sure that ICT is in­te­grated in the govern­ment poli­cies.

Voice&Data: So, what type of con­ver­sa­tion you are hav­ing with the Govern­ment of In­dia when it comes to pro­vid­ing broad­band?

Ulf Pehrs­son: Of course, we are in con­stant talks with the govern­ment and reg­u­la­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tives but we are very much in fa­vor of en­abling a dis­cus­sion be­tween gov­ern­ments and reg­u­la­tors. The is­sue we con­tinue to raise is spec­trum, of course.

You must be aware that gov­ern­ments and reg­u­la­tors come to­gether at the World Ra­dio­com­mu­ni­ca­tion Con­fer­ence (WRC) ev­ery three years to iden­tify the spec­trum needs of dif­fer­ent ser­vices, mo­bile, satel­lite, broad­cast, etc. This year, the con­fer­ence con­cluded only a few days ago. One of the roles was to iden­tify new spec­trum for fourth gen­er­a­tion, the 4G tech­nolo­gies, in the next five years or so. In the run up to the con­fer­ence, there was re­ally no con­sen­sus, glob­ally, around new spec­trum, but it iden­ti­fied spec­trum both in the cir­cle, 1.4 GHz band and 3.5 GHz bands.

I think it’s a good sig­nal that gov­ern­ments and reg­u­la­tors are look­ing into the need for more spec­trum and iden­ti­fy­ing new air­waves for mo­bile. So, I mean spec­trum will be there and ob­vi­ously hap­pen. Be­sides, we are mak­ing sure that the con­di­tions are there to build that in­fra­struc­ture and also to work around poli­cies side, on mak­ing use of ICT in govern­ment ser­vices, etc.

Voice&Data: Be­sides, spec­trum crunch, the is­sue of ex­pen­sive spec­trum is also there in In­dia. Are you tak­ing up that too?

Ulf Pehrs­son: I think that what is im­por­tant for Eric­s­son as the lead­ing tech­nol­ogy provider in the world is to con­tinue to ad­vo­cate for the avail­abil­ity of spec­trum. We are con­vinced that In­dia will do it in a very good way in 2016 when you have a big ocean there with sev­eral spec­trum bands. So, we have no par­tic­u­lar views on what is the right price or what is the right level.

Voice&Data: Keep­ing in view that In­dia is ag­gres­sively pur­su­ing Dig­i­tal In­dia and Smart City ini­tia­tives. Ac­cord­ing to you, which coun­try’s model will be ideal for In­dia to fol­low?

Ulf Pehrs­son: I think, it is im­por­tant to re­al­ize that there is no ‘one size fits all’ but of course ev­ery govern­ment needs to take into ac­count where they are, what is the start­ing point, what are their par­tic­u­lar con­di­tions in their mar­kets. And there are no two coun­tries that look the same.

But I think some Asian gov­ern­ments are mak­ing the right choices and un­der­lin­ing the right pri­or­i­ties. Firstly, there is more spec­trum avail­able which is very im­por­tant.

In In­dia, we have to make sure that the coun­try ben­e­fits from ICT ba­si­cally in all sec­tors of the so­ci­ety and also en­cour­age small cities to in­te­grate ICT. In the cities, the re­quire­ments are most ex­treme on the net­works, etc., and also we can ben­e­fit most from ICT. I be­lieve that the build­ing blocks are there. You have to en­gage all the de­part­ments of the govern­ment into it. Ba­si­cally, the tools are there it is just that you have to make use of them and you have to start re­view and come back and work on it.

Voice&Data: Do you have any mes­sage for the tele­com oper­a­tors in In­dia?

Ulf Pehrs­son: They are our cus­tomers and the mes­sage is that we will con­tinue to sup­port you with the best pos­si­ble tech­nol­ogy, and the best avail­able tech­nol­ogy and the best com­pe­tence. We are con­fi­dent that we are in a good po­si­tion to be the best part­ner go­ing for­ward. Whichever way they choose to go, we will be their sup­port.

Voice&Data: What’s your out­look for the In­dia tele­com in­dus­try?

Ulf Pehrs­son: We don’t pro­vide any guid­ance. But, so far, this year, as we can see is a very pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment in the Asia mar­ket and we re­ported that pat­tern. In Q3, we had close to about 81% sales growth in In­dia mar­ket. I think it is very much a re­flec­tion of the fact that in­vest­ments are hap­pen­ing now in In­dia and we have a lead­ing po­si­tion in sup­port­ing those in­vest­ments. And we see no rea­son why we should not look with op­ti­mism to 2016 and the fol­low­ing years in In­dia.

I think that what is im­por­tant for Eric­s­son as the lead­ing tech­nol­ogy provider in the world is to con­tinue to ad­vo­cate for the avail­abil­ity of spec­trum.

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