The timing couldn’t be better for Small Cell Forum to hold its first major event in India. The global spotlight is on this huge market, as it gears up for its first 5G auctions, and as dense mobile networks take a central role in national wireless broadband plans. Like mobile operators round the world, those in India have to strike the right balance between monetizing their 4G investments and preparing for 5G, and they know that partnerships will be critical to getting the economics right.
SCF’s Asia Workshop, hosted by Reliance Jio in Mumbai on October 4-5, will bring together these key themes. It will draw on the findings which emerged from the Forum’s first ever Partners’ Day, held in Atlanta in July. But it will discuss those lessons in the context of one of the most challenging mobile markets, India, one where operators must deal with a breakneck pace of change and rise in mobile usage – while keeping costs low.
Reliance Jio has particularly interesting perspectives to share and, for the first morning of the two-day event, its executives will provide unique and detailed insights into its strategy for expanding and densifying its 4G network, while looking forward towards 5G.
In doing this, it has been a good example of the value of partnerships. Like the Forum, it has actively sought local and international partners to support its very innovative approach to building a greenfield mobile broadband network. It is very active in international initiatives including Small Cell Forum, to help it accelerate its roll-out by building on standard platforms and the experiences of others.
This is particularly important for a new entrant, which needs to catch up rapidly with more established operators, but for all the players, the market is a rapidly changing one, and no organization can address the challenges single-handed. So the Wednesday afternoon discussion in Mumbai will not only examine Reliance Jio’s experiences, and relate them to the needs of operators worldwide. It will also build on the work done in Atlanta with a wide range of SCF strategic partners, such as 3GPP, CBRS Alliance, CTIA, ETSI (MEC and NFV ISGs), GSMA, NGMN, ONAP, TIA and XRAN Forum.
The Indian government is well aware of the value of partnership programs to accelerate progress and support densification – whether using 4G small cells, Wi-Fi or 5G – cost-effectively. For instance, a state-funded project based at the Indian Institute of Technology in Hyderabad has already filed over 100 5G-related patents and has had inputs from several operators, including Reliance Jio, and many start-ups – but is also submitting technology to global organizations such as 3GPP and IEEE.
One aim of the huge Digital India project, which includes massive fibre and wireless roll-out and an extensive smart city program, is to forge stronger collaborative links with partner organizations including standards bodies, and forums such as SCF.
Partnerships and access to international knowledge bases will be particularly vital to markets like India and its neighbors, where there has been high investment in LTE just recently. This means MNOs need to get a return on that investment, and sometimes reduce high levels of debt, before they move to 5G. For this reason, operators’ alliance the COAI (Cellular Operators’ Alliance of India) is arguing that the first auctions of 5G-targeted spectrum, in 3.3-3.6 GHz, should be postponed until 2019, giving MNOs time to consolidate their 4G and densification programs, and for 5G standards to be finalized. But this is not just about the timing of auctions – operators are talking about a far more collaborative approach, tapping into new architectures such as virtualization, and into the work done by alliances and MNOs elsewhere, to improve their cost model.
The insights of Reliance Jio and other Indian stakeholders into these critical issues will be extremely valuable for SCF members from around the world. Ensure your place at this unique event by signing up today.