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Telecom Industry, Wi-Fi Providers Should Collaborate for Biz Models, Says TRAI Chief

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Trai chairman P D Vaghela on Monday exhorted telecom companies and Wi-Fi providers to work collaboratively on developing innovative business models that would unleash combined power of mobile and Wi-Fi technology to improve digital infrastructure. Speaking at an event of Broadband India Forum (BIF), Trai chief noted that with proposed induction of 5G services, an “exponential” rise in data usage is right around the corner. “With technologies like industry 4.0, 5G broadcast, Artificial Intelligence, AR/VR, machine-to-machine communication and robotics, the data usage will grow exponentially,” Vaghela said.

The first transformation is the redesign of today’s core network business as a “customer trust network” that maximizes its resilience while simultaneously supporting its ability to offer bespoke, carrier-grade services. The second transformation is the creation of specialized growth engines that leverage the restructured core business to deliver tailored network services – “networks as a service” – to meet emerging public, private enterprise, consumer, and wholesale customer needs.

The Future of the Telecommunications Industry

“If you want to leverage the combined power of mobile and Wi-Fi technology to improve our digital infrastructure, increase digital inclusion, and bring us to the world-level, telecom companies and Wi-Fi providers have to start working together collaboratively and develop innovative business models which are win-win for both, as well as for the consumers,” Vaghela said.

Instead of focusing on this potential growth, most industry analyst focus on achieving market equilibrium (at no or low growth) through industry consolidation. Witness the flurry of activity and rumors around horizontal consolidation (Sprint and T-Mobile), cross network platform consolidation (Verizon and Charter; Sprint and Charter; or Sprint/TMUS/Comcast/Charter), and vertical acquisitions (AT&T and Time Warner). Similarly, most financial analysts are focused on the sustainability of dividend payments and the ability to refinance debt on favorable terms, as the two most important support mechanisms for the current valuations of companies in the telecommunications industry.

“A resilient public Wi-Fi network will help provide consumers with ultra-high-capacity, high-speed, high-security broadband services by working in tandem with the PM-WANI model. Wi-Fi 6 will be many times faster than the current Wi-Fi standard and will offer better performance for every megahertz of the spectrum,” Vaghela said. If incumbent carriers fail to do so, then non-carrier service providers and systems integrators will continue to fill the void, fulfilling customer needs and creating enormous value by offering virtual network functionality that rides on the carriers’ “dumb” pipes and “best efforts” services.

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