Networking vendor Cisco says it is working with Indian telcos to help them monetize their respective 5G investments, especially with private 5G use cases.
The US-based company intends to leverage its positioning in the enterprise space to tap the private 5G network opportunity in India. It is also open to working directly with enterprises on rolling out private 5G networks.
“We see the rollout taking place at a very rapid pace with both the service providers (Jio and Bharti Airtel). We are also working with them to see what more we can do in the area of monetization of the use cases, especially around private 5G as a service model,” Anand Bhaskar, managing director, service providers, Cisco India & SAARC was quoted as saying by the Economic Times.
He said that the uptake of 5G private networks will be based on use cases.
“You need to have a use case which will determine an enterprise to have spectrum, build the network and be able to monetize that,” he further added.
Early days, says Cisco
However, Daisy Chittilapilly, president, Cisco India & SAARC, said separately at the Cisco India Summit that India is in the early stages of private 5G, and use cases have yet to emerge in the country.
“It is a co-creation space, commercial rollouts have to happen, use cases have to materialize and monetization and business models have to be clear,” Chittilapilly said.
Last year, India approved the direct allocation of 5G spectrum to enterprises in June 2022. However, it hasn’t yet spelled out the specifics of the methodology of allocation.
The country’s Department of Telecommunication (DoT) may seek the opinion of the law ministry regarding the allocation of spectrum to enterprises for private networks. However, attorney general R Venkataramani earlier this month advised the DoT to allocate spectrum through the auction process.
As per media reports, Venkataramani’s comment is a potential setback for enterprises that wanted 5G spectrum allocated through the administrative route.
Indian telecom operators have opposed any direct allocation to enterprises, alleging that it would distort the level playing field and give technology players a backdoor entry to provide 5G services to enterprises.
India’s first private 5G deployment
Notably, India has already witnessed its first private 5G network, enabled by the second largest telco, Bharti Airtel. The Sunil Mittal-led telco recently deployed a private 5G network at Tech Mahindra’s Chakan manufacturing facility under a strategic partnership. The facility has become India’s first 5G-enabled automobile manufacturing unit.
Bhaskar said that despite a lag of two to three years in launching 5G, India will leapfrog with telcos rapidly expanding their 5G networks across the country. He added, however, that there have not been any major deployments so far and it will take some time “as we see what will work with the customers or with the service providers.”
“We are seeing use cases (for private networks) in large mines, large open areas, which need to be networked and connected. Once the enterprises have the economic model and the monetization model, that will help determine how much they can afford in the auction to pay for the spectrum. Otherwise, they have the fallback to work with a service provider and deliver those services,” said Bhaskar.