Femi Oshiga, Vice-President of Service Providers, APAC and MEA, CommScope
Access to modern information and communications technology will continue to be a major trend in 2023 as India deepens its focus on 5G adoption. According to a report, around 762 million Indians have not had access to the internet. As we begin to view the internet as a utility to spur economic growth, it is time for us to connect the unconnected.
Bridging the digital divide
Networks are constantly under pressure to meet the rising demand, while evolving in line with new technologies and being adaptable for future growth. It is critical that everyone across the country has the same access to opportunities brought about by broadband connectivity. Closing the digital divide will facilitate delivery of a wide range of services and applications for improving business efficiency and productivity as well as enhancing everyday lives. A McKinsey report suggests that increased proliferation of digital applications across key sectors could double their gross domestic product level to between $355 billion and $435 billion by 2025.
In 2023, network providers will continue to work closely with government agencies to bridge this divide. The Indian government also announced a $30 billion investment in 2022 to ensure last-mile accessibility to 4G and 5G services. This investment in digital transformation and infrastructure will provide long-term and far-reaching benefits for us, both economically and socially. The future looks promising and we can make broadband for everyone a reality.
As we look towards the rest of 2023, sustainability will continue to be key a focus area for all industries, telecom included. As external pressures continue to rise from consumers, governments and environmental groups, business leaders are required to act. It is currently estimated that telcos are responsible for between 1.6 per cent and 3.9 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and without immediate action, this figure will continue to grow. In order to be in line with the Paris Agreement, telcos must reduce their emissions by 45 per cent before 2030, or risk contributing to the irreversible effects of climate change.
Around the world, we are witnessing environmental, social and governance (ESG) legislation come into effect. The Indian government is taking various initiatives to increase teledensity and broadband penetration in urban and rural India. Preparing for, and complying with, these regulations will be no small task. As infrastructure providers, we are in a unique position in that our networks are made up of multiple technologies, which require constant power supplies from data centres to edge computing stations and cell sites, to name a few.
Telcos have already set ambitious internal targets to reduce power consumption and incorporate green initiatives to achieve a greener future. While not overlooking the energy consumption upstream and downstream in the supply chain, by demanding transparency in their partners’ footprint, leaders will be able to work together to tackle the issue of climate change head on. With the right initiatives and sustainability as the top priority, telcos can lead the way towards a greener future.
As the internet is increasingly becoming an everyday necessity for India, there is still much to be done for 5G development.
With economic disruptions, consumers are likely to be forced to start making decisions about the types of devices and network services they can afford. Users, in time, will likely upgrade to new devices to access the benefits of improved digital connectivity that comes with 5G.
Furthermore, 5G is expected to enhance the mobile broadband user experience and enable competitive fixed wireless access services. With the adoption of 5G, the Indian telecom industry is expected to grow by $12 billion every three years. However, 5G will need to expand into more use cases and applications. For this purpose, the industry will selectively implement 5G standalone capabilities to unlock the full benefits of 5G technology, including support for latency-sensitive, high-reliability and extended internet of things service capabilities.
Such developments will provide greater access to online services, whether to stay in contact with friends and family more easily or to run an efficient business from home or corporate headquarters.
Additionally, in the past year, we have seen very significant investments in applications such as metaverse, web3, artificial intelligence and machine learning, driving data centre providers to focus on edge capabilities to provide low latency access to data anywhere, at any time; and will, in time, have increasing applicability in the Indian telecom marketplace with the transition to 5G.