Finnish telecom gear maker Nokia expects Indian telecom operators focus on fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service and build backhaul, along with the government’s BharatNet and Smart City projects, to drive growth for the company’s fixed network business.
Federico Guillen, President – Fixed Networks, Nokia, told ET in a recent interaction “India for fixed is the smallest in size for us among seven regions currently. It is, however, growing fastest… the growth in percentage is very high, and it is going to grow further. In India, we see a lot of potential because of the dynamics that are going into direction with telcos finally investing in fixed networks.”
At the global level, the fixed networks business for Nokia is a very stable business, the executive said.
In India, fixed line broadband is considered a new front for telcos, as the Mukesh Amabni-led telco plans to commercially launch FTTH services which is expected to open up the market and create more data demand.
India’s top telco, Bharti Airtel is already modernising and expanding its fixed line network ahead of Jio’s entry, while Vodafone India, the second biggest telco in the country, is also looking at the broadband segment to strengthen its home broadband and enterprise portfolio, following its acquisition of You Broadband.
“Indian telecom operators are aggressive in their fiber-to-the- home strategies,” Guillen said, adding that Nokia is currently deploying fixed networks solution for one of the largest telecom operators in India. “The telco is only sourcing from us for their fixed network. Their GPON deployment is totally from us,” he added.
The development of the fixed networks will not just help telcos offer FTTH service, but will also help them in offloading data from wireless networks which are already seeing congestion in urban areas.
In addition, a good fixed network will help telcos prepare for 4G small cells and 5G technologies. “No matter how good a 5G network is without a good backhaul you can’t deliver,” Guillen said.
“India is late but it can leverage newest technologies. Fiber is a future-proof investment as it helps in preparing for the backhaul of the future 5G network,” he added.
The executive is of the view that the ongoing consolidation among Indian telecom operators is good for the industry, and for the fixed line segment. “It’s good. Some of my competitors may say it’s bad because you have fewer customers. But, I always believe that consolidation brings a lot more focus and you can concentrate capex and you are more direct on investment,” he added.
In India, Nokia is also working with cable operators is also bullish on the India cable operators that are are looking to offer high-speed broadband services, building on over 10 orders it has won so far from companies including Hathway and Den Networks.
“On the cable side, players have to go for home broadband services eventually, as they want to exploit their infrastructure including copper and the coaxial cables,” he said.
The executive said that Nokia has experience and technology and project management capability to help service providers and the government to implement the BharatNet project at the right speed. “They will have to use a combination of technologies, which is a complement to our portfolio,” he added.
Guillen further said that India’s ambitious smart city project would not succeed without a good fixed network. “A smart city relies on a good connectivity layer in the city both for mobility and fixed. Even for mobility, you need backhaul and fiber is required.”