Company3 min read

Indian telecom sector at an inflection point: CSPs prioritizing modernization and monetization strategies for a 5G economy

Sanjay Uppal

With almost 1.2 billion subscribers, India has the second largest telecom market in the world. The sector has recorded phenomenal growth over the last couple of decades, and the scale at which the country has deployed wireless services is unparalleled. This is a market that is still growing and evolving rapidly and is a high priority for us at VMware. Personally, I believe that the right investments in telecom infrastructure and technology can help drive a wave of inclusive development in India and transform lives for the better. Being a part of the inaugural Indian chapter of VMware Explore in April 2023 was a wonderful opportunity to meet with customers and partners and discuss the future of telecom technology in the region.

The Indian telecom sector has come a long way since the initial days of liberalization in the 1990s. Today, it stands at an inflection point. Communications service providers (CSP) are in the process of transitioning from 4G to 5G and looking to modernize their infrastructure and automate more processes for scale while ensuring zero trust security. At the same time, they are considering the breadth of services they can offer in a 5G economy, for both mobility and fixed wireless access, business to business services and enterprise access.

There are three clear priorities for Indian CSPs. First to modernize their infrastructure to roll out improved services. Second, to build monetizable services on top of the older existing ones. Third as the climate crisis escalates and the cost of energy continues to surge, most CSPs are looking for ways in which to reduce energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint.  To achieve these objectives, they need to focus on network modernization, and program multi-cloud networks to accelerate service delivery. Most importantly, they need to prioritize edge infrastructure and edge modernization and monetization strategies.  We define the edge as distributed digital infrastructure for running workloads across multiple locations placed close to endpoints producing and consuming data. Or in other words, edge computing takes network, data storage and compute power closer to users and endpoints. In doing so, edge computing promises to lower latencies and make high speed data processing a reality. Workloads are growing fastest at the edge, necessitating faster network connectivity and processing power at the edge. Most telecom operators in the country believe that the edge holds the key to innovative services for critical sectors such as manufacturing, retail and energy.

Most of the customers I spoke with in India were keen to invest in modernizing their network infrastructure, leverage the cloud for accelerated innovation and simplified operations and efficiency. Our Telco Cloud and Edge solutions provide CSPs with a comprehensive cloud-smart approach that ensures higher efficiency and flexibility, both in terms of technology and operations. VMware’s approach to the edge can be summed up as – Zero Watt, Zero Trust, Zero Touch, and programmable Edge. By taking the digital infrastructure as close to the endpoints as possible, telcos can drive sustainability as well as reduce energy costs. This is a significant factor to consider as telecom data centers require vast amounts of energy to run and generate as much CO2 as the airline industry. The advent of 5G could increase total network energy consumption by up to 170% by 2026. As India strives to achieve net zero goals, it is imperative to invest in sustainable telecom technology that leverages virtualization, automation, workload placement, modernized applications, spectrum efficiency and deep cooling compute lifecycles. Our Zero Touch provisioning is built to help drive automation and our intrinsic Zero Trust security approaches protect the network and complete infrastructure.

The Indian telecom sector is at a critical juncture with rapid roll out of 5G and the need for infrastructure modernization, automation, and efficient edge computing strategies. At VMware, we believe that the right investments in telecom technology can drive inclusive development and transform lives for the better. VMware Explore India was the perfect platform for us to engage with customers in the region and understand the ways in which we could help accelerate their 5G roadmaps. I look forward to working closely with our partners and customers in the region to drive innovation at the edge in India for Indians.