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The US-India CEO Forum Launches a Report on the Future of Connectivity in India

The ICT Working Group of the US-India CEO Forum, today, launched a report titled the Future of Connectivity in India, at a virtual event hosted by the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF).

The US-India CEO Forum serves as a bilateral platform for companies from India and the United States to collaborate with the governments of the two nations and strengthen economic and commercial ties. The event was attended by a number of key representatives from both the U.S. and Indian governments. The report, prepared by Deloitte and the ICT Working Group, lays out the path that India’s mobility business needs to traverse in a rapidly digitized and inter-connected world. The report also provides recommendations for accelerating connectivity initiatives in India in order to bring the country at par with advanced digitized economies like the United States, China and South Korea. There are several key recommendations offered in the report, including:

  • Expanding India’s fiber footprint and small cell infrastructure to deliver high capacity and dense network solutions through sharing of fiber, stimulating investments in fiber expansion via PPP, and expediting Right-of-Way (ROW) approvals;
  • Building a complementary ecosystem through Wi-Fi by enhancing policies, improving scalability and using satellites and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) networks to provide benefits in areas entailing 4G/5G backhaul, mobile hotspots, distance education, telemedicine, village connectivity, in addition to maritime and in-flight connectivity;
  • Securing cloud services and enhancing data privacy through enforcement of data protection rights, provisions governing the cross-border transfer of data and enhancing lawful interception or access to information hosted within and outside the country; and
  • Fast tracking 5G plans for commercial launch by building comprehensive wireless strategy and implementation roadmap, investments in R&D for 5G and next generation networks, developing use cases to create India-centric products and strengthening existing wireless infrastructure to complement 5G services.

Speaking on the event, Dr. P.D. Vaghela, Chairman, TRAI highlighted, “Telecom connectivity has become the lifeline of all economic activity. It has enabled large parts of the workforce to continue be productive and businesses to continue to run throughout the crisis. In future, connectivity would be enabled by a host of technology across wireless and wireline services, which supported by investor friendly policies can lead to enhanced coverage, capacity and performance.”

Mukesh Aghi, President and CEO of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, said “USISPF is proud to support this report, which makes cohesive recommendations that will strengthen India’s capacity to operate in a rapidly transforming digital world. As we experience a wave of digitalization across the globe, the need for increased access to connectivity is a priority. Widespread connectivity will enable deployment of technologies that can solve various economic, societal and infrastructural challenges.”
Diane Farrell, the Acting under Secretary and Deputy under Secretary for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce also joined the event, said “As the U.S. and India move forward together, strengthening digital connectivity and ensuring a business-friendly regulatory environment will be essential components of our relationship. I would like to congratulate the U.S.-India CEO Forum’s ICT Working Group for their hard work on the release of this important report.”
Present at the event, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Enterprises remarked, “India has the second largest number of internet users in the world and is well positioned to play a leading role in the global digital economy. During the pandemic, India’s digital backbone played a critical role in keeping the nation of one billion people connected to services such as healthcare and education, while keeping the economic engines running. The Government has made Digital India a key pillar of India’s growth story. The country is also a major source of technology outsourcing and talent for U.S. businesses. It would be a natural progression for both nations to deepen their technology collaboration and contribute to a more inclusive digital economy.”

One area of focus for the US-India CEO Forum is to ensure that India is truly connected – from rural areas to urban centers; farmers to industrial hubs; and students to healthcare workers. Building the future connectivity roadmap for India must take into account not just the technological aspects but also the profile and needs of various end-users, especially from underprivileged sections and rural India. The blueprint needs to be inclusive and future-ready,” said Antonio Neri, president and CEO at Hewlett Packard Enterprise “We hope this Connectivity Report assists India in becoming a digitally-empowered nation and a knowledge society.”
“Today, businesses across sectors are increasingly adopting edge-to-cloud solutions, which help in maintaining business continuity and enabling productive operations from across locations. The key to the growth of these solutions is the enormous opportunities from 5G adoption, edge computing and securing connectivity between edge to cloud to data center,” said Som Satsangi, MD – India, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “As a company whose purpose is to advance the way people live and work, HPE is committed to provide solutions offering seamless, ubiquitous, and secure connectivity, which can further enhance the edge-to-cloud experience.”
“The benefits of India’s world-class digital ecosystem are anchored in the massive investments in networks and technologies by the telecom industry. With 5G around the corner, the convergence of communications, platforms, big data, cloud and AI can pivot the Digital India story to the next level. For this, the Policy and Regulatory framework must be an enabling one so as to encourage continued investments, innovation and cross pollination amongst industries. The cost of spectrum & network deployment must be brought down. Right of Way permissions, small cell deployments, usage of E/V bands for backhaul transmissions, and new technologies to supplement terrestrial networks should be accelerated.” Rahul Vatts, Chief Regulatory Officer, Bharti Airtel