India is one of the largest and fastest-growing markets for digital consumers. With improved digital capabilities and internet connectivity becoming omnipresent, technology is transforming nearly every sector, creating significant economic value.
Recently, in Jharkhand, collaborative robots were utilised in COVID isolation units for transferring both medicines and food without any human intervention. This is just one example of how digital technology is creating value. Businesses are now integrating digital technology in sectors such as software, telecom, and automotive. Given that every sector has integrated digitalisation into its offerings, a new India is emerging.
We now see a new India
The application of digital in core sectors happened at an unprecedented pace in the last couple of years and have transformed various sectors:
More data consumption in rural – For the first time ever, India recorded more internet users in rural areas (227 mn) than urban (205mn). In fact, data consumption increased 400% in rural India. One of the biggest benefits of enhanced connectivity would be an expansion of the agri-tech sector. With uninterrupted technology, that sector could grow from $204 mn to $24 billion in the next 5 years.
Online education over physical institutions – The education sector witnessed massive transformation during the pandemic when it suddenly adopted digital means for imparting education. Leading institutions developed multilingual voice-based applications to cater to the masses.
E-commerce platforms preferred over brick-and-mortar stores – In the last couple of years, the order volumes of e-commerce have increased by more than 40%. The upcoming 5G revolution will take the Indian e-commerce market’s revenue to rise to US$111.40 billion by 2025.
Digital transactions preferred over cash – India witnessed a heavy surge in digital transactions, which was made much accessible through a strong telecommunication backbone. In July 2021, India’s UPI recorded 3.25 billion transactions worth US$81.48 billion.
All this disruption is happening on the back of digital connectivity enabled by next-gen networks. With 5G coming into the picture, these segments will only grow and take India’s GDP between $355 to $435 bn by 2025.
5G will add a new dimension to Digital India
Indian telcos are preparing to launch 5G in 2022 in full throttle. 5G holds the promise of next-gen applications with hyper-connected society. 5G Use cases like Industry 4.0, Smart cities and homes, autonomous cars, and smart agriculture, in turn, will create high economic and social value for the nation. It is expected to bring phenomenal growth in many sectors by 2025.
Given that the average network data speed and downloads will be exponentially high, 5G will add a new dimension to Digital India.
All these applications and 5G technology will require networks that are on-demand and flexible These networks must be able to deploy network devices and bandwidth nearly instantaneously, close to users, data, applications, clouds or connected things.
Using a robust networking infrastructure can allow Indian businesses to transform their IT infrastructure into a resilient and agile digital platform. With 5G rollouts on the anvil and next-gen technologies becoming mainstream, digital network creation becomes more critical. This ubiquitous network creation will happen on a deep fibre backbone.
Deep fiberisation will be a great enabler for 5G
Optical fibre is the key for the next-gen technologies like 5G and FTTx. With 5G deployment gaining prominence in 2022, Indian telecom operators will target to achieve at least 70% backhaul fiberisation as a prerequisite for making 5G a reality in the country.
By 2025, an average Indian will consume 25GB data per month. To enable this, India will witness a 4X jump in cumulative fibre cable footprint to 12mn fkm, which will take India’s fibre footprint to 375mn fkm
For faster deployment of fibre at such a massive scale, we need experts and proper implementation models. 73% of fibre deployment experts believe Metro city fibre deployments to be the toughest. 30% say that on average 1.5 utilities are damaged in a typical 1 Km fibre roll-out while 45% believe that solution lies in technology-led operations.
Potential models for deploying fibre on a massive scale
Deep fiberisation will require huge investments. India requires an investment of Rs 2.2 trillion over the next 5 years in fibre infrastructure over the next couple of years to adequately support rural coverage and densification. This massive investment will come from communications service providers, financial investors, and public/private partnerships.
For such an investment, manufacturing and deployment companies must be offered market incentives for massive fibre deployment.
Some of the potential models that could be considered are:
- Synergy between deep fibre and adjacent services for incremental revenue
- Partnership between carriers and over-the-top players
- Shared infrastructure models for last-mile access
These models will support in fulfilling the goals of network densification, broadband deployment, and closing the digital divide as internet users are expected to reach 900 mn by 2025.1
Just as the internet brought a revolution for unlocking avenues for online businesses in the early 1990s, 5G empowered digital connectivity would now do for all other sectors and consumers. It will act as a catalyst for bringing in the digital revolution in India. 5G is going to significantly transform the way sectors like education, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and agriculture function and take India towards the ambitious goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2025.