With data taking centre stage, traditional voice and messaging platforms are undergoing a big transformation, giving way to more sophisticated and rich communication services. In such a scenario, mobile operators are continuously looking to partner with companies such as Mavenir to tap into the big data opportunity. Pardeep Kohli, president and chief executive officer, Mavenir, talks about the company’s focus areas and future plans…

How is the telecom technology landscape evolving in India? What are the key trends?

In the past 18 months or so, India has emerged as one of the largest mobile data consuming markets in the world. All the operators have understood that data is the new currency. Jio’s disruptive data pricing and intensive push by Airtel and Vodafone Idea in augmenting data over 4G are very visible indicators. In less than two years, the mobile data usage per subscriber has gone northwards.

In suburban and rural areas, the absence of fixed line broadband services has resulted in mobile devices becoming the primary channel of accessing data. This has resulted in a massive uptake of data in these otherwise underserved and unserved areas.

Transport capacities (access and backhaul) are being augmented to cater to the data explosion and operators are building transmission highways with a three- to five-year time horizon of traffic projections. Also, voice core transition from legacy systems (circuit switch-based) to voice over long-term evolution (VoLTE) is being aggressively driven by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea. Better voice quality, spectrum efficiency and future-proof investments are driving operators to accelerate VoLTE, and cease/minimise their spend on legacy voice core infrastructure. Going forward, traditional messaging platforms will be changed to rich communications services (RCS), enabling a multitude of new services and an enhanced experience.

What are the current focus areas for Mavenir in India?

Mavenir – the industry’s only 100 per cent software, end-to-end cloud-native network infrastructure provider to mobile operators – has the unique distinction of having 100 per cent virtualised software solutions for core (voice and data), messaging and RAN. We intend to leverage our global leadership position in RCS and bring best-in-class solutions for Indian operators.

We are building a strong team to engage with mobile operators and change the mobile network economics through innovation. Reducing network costs (both capex and opex) is a critical factor for operators as they facilitate 4G services and look to build 5G capabilities. We are innovating and working on opportunities for data core and virtualised RAN based on the open RAN global initiative, besides leveraging our strong global VoLTE experience by supporting our customers in shifting from legacy circuit switched systems. This is another key element for operators to reduce costs and, subsequently, to rapidly deploy new revenue generating services.

Going forward, we will be offering innovative, new services that will generate revenues for operators. We will also be introducing advanced artificial intelligence (AI)-based security solutions to secure and protect that revenue.

Who are your key clients? How have their needs changed over time?

All Indian telecom operators are our key clients and their requirements are changing along with subscriber requirements. They are looking for more data, and  faster and more cost-efficient services.

What is your view on India’s readiness for 5G? What are the key requirements?

India is witnessing a 4G coverage wave with operators investing significantly in meeting subscriber data demands pan-India. We expect to see substantial investments in 4G coverage and capacity augmentation over the next two years.

India needs an impetus and support from the government as well as the telecom regulator on 5G. Adequate spectrum availability and its affordability are key to the success of 5G in India. With the culmination of the general elections, it is expected that the new government will plan a 5G spectrum strategy and auctions within financial year 2019-20. Initiatives are already being taken by the Department of Telecommunications along with major operators to facilitate 5G trials in the country.

I am of the view that operators would take a cautious and measured approach to 5G, with initial deployments taking place in late 2020 post spectrum auctions. We expect initial 5G deployments to be focused on high density urban markets or specifically for addressing capacity hotspots. The 5G ecosystem, as an enabler of internet of things across industry segments, will gradually take shape based on India-specific use cases from 2021 onwards.

What are the key growth opportunities that you are looking to tap in the near future?

The way the industry is moving, we as an organisation would be focused on voice core business in VoLTE with all the major operators. Also, our focus would be on messaging and RCS, data core, virtualised RAN opportunities in 4G and readiness for 5G.