The recent recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has supported the concept of private networks wherein enterprises can set up their own 5G systems for their captive data needs. This has led to a debate with private telecom operators opposing such a move as they fear it would hit their enterprise revenues. Anand Bhaskar, managing director, service providers, Cisco India & SAARC, in an interview with Fe’s Kiran Rathee said that apart from government policy the future of private networks would also depend on the kind of companies which opt for it. Excerpts:
Q) Telecom operators are opposed to the concept of private 5G networks as they feel it would eat into their enterprise revenues. How do does Cisco view the issue?
A) Private 5G networks would require a lot of expertise. Security issues is a major concern in India and companies need to have licences and other regulatory approvals in place. So, apart from government policy, one would have to also to see how many large organizations would be willing to take spectrum and build their own 5G network. There are certain countries in Europe and Asia which have given spectrum to private businesses. We are working in partnership with the telecom service providers and the government to help bring this.
Q) Suppose if the government allocates spectrum to enterprises, would Cisco provide its solutions to enterprises or still prefer to work through telecom operators?
A) We will follow the policy. From a technology enablement perspective, Cisco provides both. We work with our telecom service providers and we work with our enterprise customers. So, depending on what policies get framed by the government, we will work in accordance with that.
Q) Basically, it means that if enterprises are able to get spectrum directly, Cisco can set up their entire network?
A) Yes, but we will wait for the government policy. From technology perspective, we enable both.
Q) What are the private 5G network solutions from Cisco?
A) We would provide private 5G as-a-service, to enterprises in partnership with system integrators and telecom service providers, leveraging our packet core and mobile core technology along with our IoT based services. 5G provides a lot of benefits to customers in terms of bandwidth, ability to slice the network for specific use cases etc. We’re just extending that ability of the enterprise to function from the office to wherever they would like to work from.
Q) Network-as-a-service (NaaS) is an area which is emerging in the cloud space allowing enterprises to avail subscription model for their telecom connectivity needs. Please explain how does this concept work?
A) Basically, NaaS is a cloud-enabled and usage-based consumption model, which allows businesses to acquire and orchestrate network capabilities. It gives them a lot of agility, flexibility and ability to scale up and down, which is what traditional networks were not allowing them to do earlier. Clearly, that is why NaaS is on the rise. Earlier, businesses used to have a data centre where all their applications would reside. Everybody would sit in office. Network would be a point-to-point connectivity from the user office to the data centre. With cloud operating model and the cloud business model, the whole thing has changed dramatically. You have businesses operating using multiple clouds. Now, people are no longer in offices, people work from anywhere. So, that is where this whole NaaS journey comes along where businesses pay for it on a subscription basis and use it as they go along.
Q) Who are you probable customers for this service? Telecom operators or the enterprises?
A) We will have customers who are enterprises and businesses, but we will work through large system integrators and telecom service providers because they will need to be part of the ecosystem to complete the entire value chain for the end customer.
Q) What kind of cost savings will accrue to enterprises if they adopt the NaaS model?
A) While cost savings will definitely be there in the long run, I think what CIOs and CTOs today are looking for is flexibility, agility and ability to scale – which is what this provides.