Ericsson is ready to power India into the 5G future: VP marketing & communications Ruchika Batra

Mumbai: With 5G set to take flight in India, telecom companies are gearing up to be the first in the 5G race. The country’s first auction of the 5G spectrum concluded early last month, with service providers Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, and Adani Data Networks paying the department of telecom (DoT) a total of about Rs 17,876 crore for the spectrum they acquired. With this spectrum allotment, India is in the final stage of rolling out high-speed 5G telecom services.

Ericsson India recently unveiled its new brand campaign "Imagine Possible" that sets out to show the limitless possibilities of increased connectivity with 5G for Indian industries, people, and communities. In an interaction with, Ericsson VP-marketing and communications Ruchika Batra talks about the campaign objective, the significance of the Indian market for the brand and how ready the Indian consumer is to welcome the 5G network.

India has been a strategic market for Ericsson and the leading provider of telecom network equipment has been partnering with the country through generations of mobility—2G, 3G, and 4G—even as it now sets the stage for the 5G rollout.

The fifth generation of mobile networks or 5G, as it is referred to, is currently the fastest communication network available in the world, as it gradually makes its way to every part of the globe. It opens up a whole new world of entertainment and applications, enabling users to download full-length movies in a matter of seconds and take advantage of more advanced linked technologies like gaming with augmented reality.

Ericsson’s global campaign - India chapter

Elaborating on the objective of launching the India chapter of this global campaign, Batra says that "Imagine Possible" brings to life the company’s purpose and vision in the Indian context. "The objective of the campaign is all about showcasing the limitless possibilities that 5G will bring to Indian enterprises, people, and communities. It emphasises the transformational role that 5G can play in creating a more digitally inclusive society in India through relevant use-cases across industries like healthcare, manufacturing, education, and entertainment." With 5G, the possibilities are endless and the campaign depicts the same, she adds.

It highlights the potential of 5G through five scenarios: a schoolgirl taking remote lessons from a rural homestead; fans enjoying an extended reality cricket experience; a mountain medic wearing an AR headset allowing him to see the diagnosis from surgeons back in the hospital whilst attending patients at a remote location; a farmer enjoying the benefits of connected digital financial services in a rural setting; and drone operations with 5G powered smart factories.

Ericsson's significant achievements in the Indian 5G market

According to Batra, Ericsson has viewed India as a strategic market since 1903. It became one of the first companies to manufacture telecom equipment for domestic players as well as export it to other parts of the world. So, when Batra was asked about the 5G readiness in the country, she said, "Our Ericsson radio solutions introduced in India in 2015 are 5G ready and we are well prepared to support Indian service providers in their journey from 4G to 5G. We have been working with our operator partners, enterprises, as well as the academic community to test and curate various 5G use cases that would be relevant for the country with the trial spectrum that was made available."

Post the recently concluded 5G spectrum auctions in the country, Bharti Airtel awarded its first 5G contract in the country to Ericsson. Some of the recent 5G milestones that Ericsson has achieved include partnering with Bharti Airtel to demonstrate India’s first 5G live network in Hyderabad and trials in Gurugram and Manesar. This was followed by a demonstration of India’s first 5G rural trial in Bhaipur Bramanan village on the outskirts of Delhi/NCR. Ericsson also partnered with Vodafone Idea (VIL) to showcase the power of 5G to bring healthcare to remote parts of the country.

"At our end, Ericsson is ready to power India into the 5G future. In fact, our radio system hardware has been 5G-ready since 2015 enabling operators to upgrade to 5G with a remote software installation," asserts Batra.

Influence of 5G on consumers and enterprises in India

With 5G services to be rolled out in India shortly, India’s top telcos Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are firming up plans to tap into the emerging gaming and e-sports segment that is expected to see strong growth and investments amid faster speeds and low latency. The next phase of growth for gaming is expected to be driven by the accelerating adoption of 5G, cloud gaming, gamification, and mobile gaming devices, among others. For instance, 4K video on a smartphone, AR/VR and mobile gaming applications benefit from 5G capabilities such as ultra-low latency and ultra-high reliability for an enhanced user experience.

According to Batra, some of the use cases that consumers will see with 5G are cloud gaming, live sports and enhanced video content, with 5G enabled sports being the top predicted revenue drivers. A spectator will get an even more immersive experience using 5G-enabled stadiums, 5G network slicing, 5G enabled cameras and virtual transmission centres, she adds.

The need for low latency will be even more crucial with AR/VR entering the market for consumers to have a captivating experience, and 5G will be able to address this quickly, points out the Ericsson marketing and communications head.

In future, gaming will form a core of major telcos' business strategy going forward, as they seek to increase average revenue per user (ARPU) by engaging more subscribers and boosting user stickiness, predicts industry experts.

Will 5G services be welcome with premium prices?

Batra is categorical about Indian consumers’ willingness to pay more for value-added premium services. "There is already quite a lot of enthusiasm amongst Indian consumers for 5G and they are willing to pay a premium for the capabilities it brings," she asserts.

According to Ericsson’s ConsumerLab study, at least 40 million smartphone users in India are expected to take up 5G in the first year of it becoming available, she points out. "In fact, they are also willing to pay 50 per cent more for 5G plans that include bundled digital services, compared to just 10 per cent more for 5G connectivity."

The latest Mobility Report from Ericsson predicts that by 2027, nearly 40 per cent of all mobile subscriptions in India will be on 5G, which is a whopping 500 million subscribers. This adoption will be driven by significant investment by mobile operators, who are expected to dedicate a huge part of their capital expenditure on building 5G infrastructure, estimates the report.

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