As the telecom industry braces itself for the 5G era, operators are finding it challenging to adopt new technologies without compromising their legacy infrastructure. In such a scenario, Oracle Communications is helping telcos in staying relevant in the ever-evolving telecom technology space. In an interview with, Boudewijn Pesch, group vice president, Japan and Asia Pacific, Oracle Communications, talks about the emerging technology trends and the company’s key focus areas in India. Excerpts…

How has the telecom market evolved in India?

With the evolution of networks from 2G to 4G and now 5G, operators have a good track record of investment, adoption and deployment. The pace of change and development of new technologies present both an opportunity and a challenge for operators, who need to invest in new technology-driven services to remain competitive while continuing to support older-generation networks. Finding the right balance bet­ween investing in new technologies and maintaining current offerings often means that true innovation takes a back seat. This is where Oracle and its cloud-based offerings can help operators in maintaining legacy services while cost effectively innovating and developing new services.

5G presents a huge opportunity for operators but the explosion in bandwidth and opportunities for data services cannot come at the expense of core operator services like voice and text. Oracle’s network slicing solutions allow different requirements to be managed effectively, so that customers receive excellent service regardless of whether they are making voice calls, sending SMSs or streaming media content.

What are the key focus areas and opportunities for Oracle Communications in India?

Oracle Communications’ products and solutions help communication service providers (CSPs) in modernising their core networks, and building and launching new services for their customers. Our offerings cover core operational technologies like LTE, and policy control and signalling management platforms for routing and selection. We also have OSS/BSS tools to help operators better manage their networks and services for delivering  increasingly personalised services. We have developed tools and solutions to improve communications within en­te­r­­prises. Investments in uni­­fied communications technologies have grown significantly in recent years and our experience of working with CSPs has helped us in looking at how different industries can communicate more effectively. A big revolution is going to come in the form of the TDM to SIP transition, which will enable enterprises to redefine their networks. We have seen it happen in America, Europe and even in Australia to a large extent where 60-70 per cent organisations have already shifted and India is not far behind.

How can operators prepare for a 5G future?

The telecom industry is investing in networks to cater to the evolving digital needs of retail and enterprise customers. The government is determined to launch 5G services by 2020 as it will help in accelerating programmes such as the Smart Cities Mission and Digital India. In addition, 5G will create a smart ecosystem that will spur new innovations and highly customised services. This will open the door to new, customised business services that can generate higher revenues for operators.

Although developments are under way for commercial deployment of 5G, the technology standards are far from formalised. Telcos will need to modernise and up­grade their network infrastructure for meeting future de­ma­n­ds. Given the pace at which the 4G network is being utili­s­ed, telcos should start transforming their networks now so that they are ready to exploit 5G networks in future for better revenue and customer delight. Regu­latory and government support will help the telcos in network transformation.

What will be the relevance of the cloud in a 5G scenario?

There are a lot of discussions around smart cities and self-driving cars, and with 5G, operators will be working closely with smart city developers and car manufacturers to see how to put an internet of things ecosystem together. The biggest feature of 5G is network slicing, which enables CSPs to personalise network “slices” for matching the specific requirements of industry verticals and customer segments. This is a game changer and will be critical as billions of “things” get connected.

The challenge for operators, however, will lie in supporting older-generation networks while investing in newer technologies to stay relevant. In such a scenario, Oracle’s cloud-based services can help businesses offload IT management so that they can focus on other priorities. The general understanding is that 5G and the cloud are going to be very useful for enterprises.

What is Oracle’s role in the mobile number portability (MNP) space in India?

Oracle is the leader in the MNP space in India. Many CSPs use our services in this space. We saw significant usage when a large number of people switched to Reliance Jio when its services were free but then left the network when it started charging for the services.