Transformation is a Must
Telcos are saddled with legacy networks, including 3G, which are fast becoming inadequate in meeting the mobile data needs of an ultra-commoditized bandwidth era
The last one-year has seen mobile networks becoming even more heterogeneous due to a pick-up in the 4G rollout momentum, which increases the complexity in terms of their management. This makes telecom managed services essential to a smooth running of the mobile networks and hence delivery of services to the end customers.
Heterogeneous networks, also known as HetNets are very much a technological reality today, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon in near future, even though a couple of telcos are making concerted efforts to simplify the networks. Earlier, mostly 3G networks had to coexist with 2G, GPRS and EDGE networks (apart from a shrinking base of CDMA networks). However, the entry of greenfield behemoth Reliance Jio Infocomm has accelerated the advent of 4G LTE networks, as there has been added pressure on the major incumbents to increase their 4G LTE footprints in order to ward off any competitive threats.
Major government-led programs like Digital India and Smart Cities have also prompted telcos to beef up their technological and network capabilities, in order to be able to reap fuller benefits of these programs. In fact, Reliance Jio is strategically positioning itself as a digital content and services company rather than a telecom service provider and would be investing around Rs 250,000 crore to build its ‘digital pillars.’
The leading incumbent, Bharti Airtel in November 2015 announced its massive network transformation program Project Leap. It committed Rs 60,000 crore over a period of three years as part of the program, which among other things would see a deployment of 70,000 base stations within the first year. Airtel said it would swap its legacy networks and base stations over a three-year period and replace them with smaller, more compact and efficient technologies that will significantly improve customer experience. The service provider noted that all these modern base stations would use a single radio access network to manage multiple spectrum bands.