Vijay Yadav is the Chairman and Managing Director of UTStarcom India Telecom Pvt. Ltd. As a Corporate VP for UTStarcom Inc., Mr Yadav leads the company’s operations in South Asia, Middle East & Africa based out of India. Prior to UTStarcom Mr Yadav worked in such leading technology companies as 3COM and CommWorks. Vijay Yadav holds a B.E degree in Civil Engineering from BITS, Pilani and a M.Sc. in Chemistry from the same institute.
Demand for broadband connectivity in India is growing and services providers are rushing to rollout 3G and high-end WiFi/WiMAX. Users are looking for faster connectivity at affordable prices and service providers are working hard to deliver the high quality experience users’ expect. Nevertheless, although the number of users is approaching 800 million, service providers are facing a decline in ARPUs. Service providers are hoping broadband and the value added services they make possible will halt this decline and build profits.
We have come a long way in the communication landscape. From the time of mailing letters at the post office to the age of landlines and mobiles, we have witnessed several interesting phases. There are more than 700 million mobile users and more than ten million broadband users in India. This indicates powerful outreach by enabling everyone in our country to communicate and interact with anyone seamlessly. I believe the current communication era is the best time for all; be they technology providers, operators or end users, all are moving towards an era where seamless connectivity will be the reality and real time interactivity will play a major role in communications-based services. The world has evolved and reached new levels of interaction. Online communication has increased significantly and now, social networking is redefining communications driven by its rapidly rising user base. The demand for high-end connectivity is also rising and services such as 3G and high-end WiFi/WiMAX are growing everywhere. Users are looking for faster connectivity at affordable prices and service providers are working hard to deliver the high quality experience users’ expect. There is a huge demand for innovative services that service providers are striving to meet; they are working to enhance the user’s experience by enabling them to do more. The focus on innovation is directly linked to end-users demand. Users want fast, seamless, integrated solutions, products and services that provide real-time access to just about everything and, as well, help them connect with loved ones 24/7 and service providers are in a race with the competition to find ways to meet these demands. Given the requirements of this highly demanding market, service providers are constantly - and heavily - investing in the search for technology and solutions. Though the number of phone users in India is approaching 800 million, service providers are facing a decline of their ARPU (average revenue per user) and this is impacting everyone in the sector’s eco-system. We all understand just how price sensitive the Indian market is - for most users affordability is the deciding factor when they choose services. To tackle this issue, the sector is betting heavily on VAS (Value Added Services) to build revenues and generate profitable. Another situation that we need to understand is the growth of smart devices. Devices that enhance connectivity and functionality via embedded, high-power processor chips are called ‘smart devices’. Smart devices let one take pictures, make calls, watch video, listen to music, play games, shop online and connect with friends via social networking sites. There is a big demand for such devices and also the services and bandwidth to support them. Looking at the broadband penetration in the other parts of the world, the Indian government is taking aggressive steps to push connectivity via broadband to every corner of India. The government understands the benefits that building a robust infrastructure to bring broadband service to every corner of India will bring. These are big projects, and the government is investing the time and money needed to ensure the proposed National Broadband Plan by TRAI becomes reality. India’s policy and programmes to build a robust eco-system to support the anticipated demand for high-end solutions and services necessary to support the country’s continued growth and development. If done correctly, the new broadband infrastructure could create win-win situation for everyone. Service providers will be able to offer relevant services at affordable prices and users will have more options to explore, but how can we create this win-win situation. Given the range of relevant scenarios, 3G seems to be the best way for India to help create a seamless access solution and a win-win situation. Spectrum for the third generation - 3G - standard of connectivity was sold at auction last year. A few operators have already launched this service in India, which promises to grow significantly. Today, there is huge demand in the market for seamless connectivity and users are beginning to expect much more from the services they get. Users want uninterrupted - but affordable - high-speed communication and a good choice of relevant services. Relevant, in this case, means services that help us constantly keep up with our social, business and entertainment needs. This can easily be achieved via 3G’s faster connectivity that lets one download heavy file quickly or enjoy a high-definition video without interruptions for buffering. This is already available in India; BSNL and MTNL were the first to offer 3G services here and other leading private player are following closely behind. The rise of smart phones, as anyone here can see, has brought significant changes to the communications sector. Smart phones can do things far beyond what basic mobile phones can handle, but service providers need to offer a full range of applications and content to take advantage of the smart phone’s capabilities. So, with 3G to support, service providers must offer interesting value added services that will enhance the experience of such smart devices. Value added services, or VAS, are extremely important to service providers as a source of extra revenue to counter India’s declining ARPUs. Analysts have long predicted that the Indian telecom industry’s growth will depend more upon VAS - especially video - than upon voice. The demand for video content was never significant in the past because the high bandwidth needed for quality reproduction was never available. Today, 3G can easily support video’s high bandwidth requirements and enhance the overall experience. Care is needed when choosing the 3G infrastructure to ensue the technology will make it possible to offer the service at affordable rates. Technologies such as PTN (packet transport network) can provide the connectivity needed throughout the network using fibre interconnections. PTN provides capacity up to ten GB and beyond - more than sufficient for the carriers’ current needs - and it is affordable. PTN also offers low power consumption; standard PTN equipment consumes only 50 watts and further, it needs less space to install than most other options. In a nutshell, 3G offers the Indian telecom sector’s entire eco-system a great many benefits - if we implement it correctly. So far, India has been moving into right direction thanks to the government’s and the industry’s proactive attitudes.