Addressing the Tide

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Addressing the Tide (The Week Series III)

Sanjay Rohatgi,President, Service Provider Business, Cisco India and SAARC

The mobile Internet has changed the way people communicate, stay informed, and are entertained. With more compelling services and mobile multimedia computing devices, users are increasingly entering the network and creating an enormous surge in mobile traffic. As per Cisco Visual Networking Index report, mobile traffic will grow 58-fold, from 2011-2016 in India – at a CAGR of 126%.

Internet video is slowly becoming a substitute for TV at home and consumers today are viewing all kinds of video – from news clips, to TV shows and full–length movies over the internet. A case in point is the recent IPL tournament – in the first week of the tournament itself, the IPL website recorded 13.7 million views, a 56 per cent growth over last year.

Broadband network technologies such as 3G, enhanced 3G and now 3GPP Long Term Evolution (LTE) or 4G specification are helping to meet user expectations for speed in this increasingly mobile, wireless environment.

Advantage 4G

4G is a next-generation mobile wireless technology designed to deliver ultra high-speed mobile broadband, enhance subscriber interaction with the network and drive the adoption online television, streaming video, video on demand (VoD), social networking, and interactive gaming. Statistics indicate that the global LTE market will grow from $2.28 billion in 2010 to $262.05 billion in 2015. This represents a CAGR of 158.2% from 2010 to 2015.

As more important parts of our lives go online, 4G will enable a fully connected world where digital devices are mobile-enabled, more flexible and integrated. Consumers will be able to watch TV, do video call, shop online and access social media, entertainment and information on the go while getting the most from mobile devices and apps that deliver best performance on 4G networks.

Businesses will benefit from faster and more reliable mobile data services, improved efficiency and productivity. Employees who use some form of mobile device for checking email or accessing documents can do it faster and use a wide range of applications that will allow people to work remotely and exploit cloud services via their mobile devices.

LTE in India

Plans for rolling out LTE network in India are already underway with the services being rolled out in key cities such as Kolkata, Bangalore and Pune.Analysts predict that TD–LTE subscribers will reach 5 million by 2013 in the country.

The LTE ecosystem will incorporate a breadth of devices and components, software applications and services each of which has to be compatible with the other to meet consumer demand. The device ecosystem is still a nascent stage on 4G, especially in the frequency band that India is opting for. LTE at present is suited only to carry data; to carry voice, operators have to either use 2G/3G systems or VoIP. Delivering seamless experience across networks will be a challenge and an imperative for operators.

The Voice over LTE (VoLTE), a system for providing a unified format of voice traffic on LTE, which is being debated in the country at the moment, will be a huge business driver if enabled. The current spectrum allocation in 2.3 GHz band seems to have indoor penetration issues. Spectrum in a more conducive band is preferred.

A lot of work needs to be done to create consumer awareness on the benefits of data. 27 million Smartphone users out of a total population of 1.22 billion and even less number of people on data plans means that awareness is critical and integral to ensuring optimum experience.

The future

The plunging Average Revenue per Users (ARPUs) for service providers (SPs) is a strong trigger for pick up of the LTE market in India. SPs need to look at new revenue models, essentially non voice; data/video appears to be one of the top priorities.

As LTE evolves, mobile operators will benefit from solutions that can provide 2G/3G functionality now and evolve to 4G functionality later, without replacing costly systems and equipment needed to support legacy networks while subscribers transition to the new network.

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