‘Digital India will be delivered on mobile broadband’

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Published: January 11, 2016 12:12:48 AM

Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson is seeing a growing interest of governments in areas such as utilities and public safety across states and districts in India.

Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson is seeing a growing interest of governments in areas such as utilities and public safety across states and districts in India. “We created our Industry and Society business line to focus on smart cities, Digital India programme and other technology projects from the government,” says Paolo Collela, head of India Region, Ericsson. “We are looking at supporting government initiatives for smart grids, intelligent transport systems and security systems. The roll out of 100 smart cities in India, over a period of time, will give us a huge platform to deploy our smart city solutions,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interaction. Excerpts:

You have recently taken over as the Head of Region India. What are your views on the potential of the India market?

The telecom sector in India is going through an exciting growth phase. Mobile broadband will be the platform on which Digital India will be delivered. 3G and 4G basically will bring internet in the hands of everybody in the country. Access to internet will be from the mobile platform for more and more Indians as India develops a digital identity around mobile. We are seeing e-commerce models and new applications being developed in India based on purely mobile platforms. In future, I see India emerging as an exporter of new business models that are centered on mobile.

Ericsson is undergoing transformation to become an ICT player, what is the rationale behind that?

Today’s business environment is driven by change. Three fundamental ICT forces—broadband, mobility and cloud—are rapidly reshaping value chains, digitalising business models and creating possibilities that were previously unimaginable. The signs of a major inflection point are everywhere—exponential device growth, market consolidation and new ICT players overtaking old industries, to give just a few examples. Technology is being used in new ways by new actors to create new value. Disruption has been immediate in some industries—TV and media, for example, where over 50% of consumers now watch streamed on-demand video content at least once a day.

Just like our industry and our customers, we are on a transformation journey—to become a leading ICT provider. Our strategy, capabilities and business mix are all evolving to ensure we meet the needs of current and new customers, create value and stay relevant in the Networked Society. In recent years, Ericsson has minimised the number of our hardware platforms and software stacks, while making strategic investments, divesting our handset business and discontinuing modem operations. Today, 66% of our business comes from software and services—just 16 years ago, 73% came from hardware. Now, with industries and even whole societies being disrupted by mobility, broadband and cloud, we are accelerating our transformation.

What is your expectation from the India market?

India has embarked on a digital journey and as a result, almost every industry is going through a transformation. With our experience in mobile communications and our expertise in combining technology and services, we can help operators and other industries leverage the power of digital mobility. This is also an opportunity for us to introduce our whole portfolio of solutions and services and to grow our presence in the Indian market. In addition to leveraging the full portfolio, a large part of my focus is also on strengthening the competence base within the organisation, so that we can fully participate in the new opportunities that are opening up in India (such as smart cities) and continue with our growth journey in the country.

You recently announced that you expect one fifth of the India revenue to come from Industry & Society (I&S) vertical, what are your key focus areas within I&S?

Industry & Society was created at Ericsson last year to meet the needs of the utilities, transport and public safety industries. These are our focus areas in all 180 countries in which we are present , including India.

Are you going to evolve a new Managed Services model to take care of the I&S business?

Our knowledge and experience of solving complex problems involving networks, software, data security and services, makes us ideally suited as a partner for companies, industries, regulators and societies dealing with the opportunities and challenges of the networked society. In order to assist customers in launching and operating their solutions, we have built a range of global services capabilities and delivery models including consulting and systems
integration, managed operations, and field services.

Our global services organisation not only makes sure that expertise and support is available in all local markets, but also ensures that customers have access to world-leading integration and project management experts.

Can you give examples of utility solutions that you have deployed in recent months?

This transformation of the utility sector is still in its early days, and the driving forces vary according to market. In many western markets regulators have acted to drive smart metering deployments and put utilities on the path toward smart grids, in order to increase the integration of renewables into the grid, and to help manage peak
demand to avoid major new investments in generation and resultant carbondioxide.

In developing markets, utilities face challenges of fraud and theft, with ‘non-technical’ losses in some countries reaching more than 30% of all energy distributed. For these vastly different reasons, utilities are turning to smart metering and smart grid communications. We are currently deploying a smart-metering network in Estonia in partnership with leading energy distributer Elektrilevi.

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