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Indian telecom industry rises to pandemic challenge

Gurgaon, May 3,  2020: Indian Telecom leaders have kept networks up and implemented necessary changes on-the-go to augment capacities due to unprecedented increase in the demand for digital services  during the current pandemic.
A virtual industry roundtable organised by techARC on Covid-19 and its impact on the digital industry in India organised by techARC in collaboration with Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) threw up the following points:
-           Government is playing an enabling role in helping the industry offer connectivity to citizens efficiently.
-           The entire telecom fraternity is working in hardship like any other sectors who are front-ending in the field.
-           Operators are not looking at their available resources but giving priority to what their customers require most at the moment.
-           There is a need to have further investments in the sector with participation from the government as well.
-           Government must look into the requests of the sector empowering them to serve the customers more efficiently.
-           The role of new technologies like 5G, IoT, Industry 4.0, FTTX, etc., is only going to be significant in near future aiding the new normal.|
-           Many of the patterns and trends that have emerged during the pandemic situation are going to stay and the telecom sector needs to get prepared for that.
-           Applications like Tele-medicine, e-Education, drone surveillance and Industry 4.0 are going to see a surge in consumption.
Said: Rajan S Mathews, DG, COAI: “With the timely intervention of the Department of Telecommunications and coordination with various state and local authorities, the defunct BTS sites were brought down from 800 to 70 increasing the capacities substantially.”
Added Vodafone Idea  Chief Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Officer, P Balaji: “There are several unsung heroes who toiled day and night travelling several kilometres to perform the necessary network tasks giving relief to enterprise as well as individual customers of the operator at a time when the telecom connectivity is the only means of communication.”
Added Amit Marwah, Head of Marketing and Corporate Affairs for Nokia India: “We swiftly extended all global best practices and learnings to the India telecom ecosystem by realigning the portfolio on the three principles of Secure, Scale and Stimulate giving the operator community an immediate resolution of the challenges and linking them with the likely future requirements.”  Nokia had done a mock drill of Business Continuity Plan with their operator customers 2-3 weeks ahead of the lockdown as well as set up a VPN gateway in Mumbai on emergency basis.
Ankit Agarwal, CEO Connectivity Solutions, STL said, “We saw 30-50% jump in the traffic of our customers and these new patterns are going to stay even beyond the Covid-19 situation.  This means there has to be a substantial investment in networks, especially on the fibre deployments which can charge the last mile connectivity with the requisite power to support such shifts in data consumption patterns.”
Said Sachin Kalantri, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Qualcomm India: “We have been able to handle the situation due to a symbiotic endeavour put in by the telecom operators, device OEMs and the app ecosystem.  While connectivity and apps are available to the consumers, device fulfilment is a challenge impacting the productivity of people directly.”  He further added that our homes have become our offices, schools, hospitals and every possible organisation we may need to interface with.
Moderating the live panel discussion Faisal Kawoosa, Founder & Chief Analyst, techARC said, “The workplace equation has flipped where instead of making employees feel homely, people are looking at office infrastructure within homes and telecom is making that happen.  Going forward, technologies like 5G shall play a vital role in further enhancing work from anywhere experience.”