Ericsson’s regional boss said that Indian telcos would be able to quickly monetise 5G-related investments with the “timely” launch of commercial 5G services in the country.
Nunzio Mirtillo, head of Southeast Asia, Oceania and India at the Swedish telecom gear maker, said that the company has been executing its strategy for the local market with priority, having bagged lucrative 5G deals from Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio.
“India is a great place to be in and all leading indicators have been either met or exceeded, be it mobile broadband subscriptions, APRU (average revenue per user) or the push from the government to make Digital India. Everything went in the right direction and has exceeded our expectations. 5G is also in line with that,” he told the Economic Times newspaper.
5G momentum is building for Indian telcos
“The 5G momentum is building up, and I think the timing is just right because 5G technology today is mature, reliable, secure, and competitive. The timing is just perfect,” he added.
Jio and Airtel have launched their respective 5G services in India. While Airtel’s 5G service is available in eight cities to all its customers, Jio launched its 5G beta service, available in four cities, under an invite-only program. Both telcos plan to quickly expand their 5G footprint in the country in the next 15-18 months.
On the other hand, Vodafone Idea continues to struggle financially and hasn’t finalised its 5G launch timeline, having acquired spectrum in 16 circles. It continues to hunt for investors to raise funds to support its extensive network spread across India.
Mirtillo said Ericsson is closely working with Vodafone Idea on 5G network contracts.
“The issue with them is that they have not been doing as well as Airtel and Jio, but at the same time, they have a big network. They have a chance to make it right. It’s a matter of what they will decide in terms of investment going forward. They have the 5G spectrum, so they have the possibility to make it,” he added.
Indian telco’s 5G strategy
While Indian telcos’ initial 5G strategy revolves around consumer use cases such as high-speed internet on phones and fixed wireless access, Mirtillo said that the availability of more use cases for enterprises would help drive revenues for Indian telecom operators.
Additionally, the gear company is now planning to tap the private 5G network-related opportunities in the country with the help of its recent acquisition of Cradlepoint.
“We have recently renewed our strategy. And have acquired two new companies, Cradlepoint and Vonage, as a strategic move to create new revenue streams. Cradlepoint, which provides mobile access to enterprises and is quite successful. They have also taken over the responsibility of private networks, which will pick up with 5G. In India, we did a survey that highlighted 80% of the enterprises want to use 5G in the next 24 months. There is a big opportunity,” the executive added.
Ericsson and private 5G
Ericsson plans to take both system integrator (SI) and telco routes to tap India’s private 5G opportunities. “Airports, manufacturing, health, agriculture, and transport are the industries that will leverage the 5G platforms. We will build this platform, and I think India will be quite unique.”