India is now the second largest smartphone market in the world, overtaking the US, and to support that growth, its operators are turning their network strategies and business models inside-out, and focusing heavily on densification.
Yet on the industry events circuit, the Indian sub-continent is often included in general ‘Asia-Pacific’ regional conferences, even though its dynamics are completely different from those of other regions. Given the importance of this market to the global mobile industry, an international event with a primary focus on India seems long overdue.
This is a gap Small Cell Forum will be filling on October 4-5 in Mumbai, when it holds its first major gathering in India. The first day of the event, hosted by Reliance Jio at its headquarters, will provide a uniquely detailed and real-world view of the Indian operators’ challenges, requirements and deployment plans. This will be followed by a one-day plenary for Forum members only, in which the working groups will assimilate many of the findings from the previous day and feed them into their agendas.
This will be a chance to hear about the deployment vision and requirements of mobile operators in India, and specifically those of Reliance Jio, the newest entrant. It has already caused a stir in this rapidly changing market with its rapid growth, which it has achieved with the help of an innovative approach to building out its LTE network. It is a case study of how small cells can transform the speed of roll-out, and the cost, of a new network, especially when they are deployed in a variety of spectrum bands, and combined cellular with Wi-Fi.
This is a very different operator story from those from the 5G trailblazers of South Korea or Japan, which more commonly headline at Asian conferences. Fascinating as those are, they are a world away from the plans of many operators and suppliers. The operators of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are certainly weighing up their 5G options, but for now, their priority is to squeeze the best performance and efficiency from existing technologies in order to support rapid growth in usage, in cost-sensitive markets with large rural areas.
That means they are prioritizing low cost, flexible architectures, including small cells and virtualized systems, along with infrastructure sharing, neutral host models and shared or dynamic spectrum. All of these, of course, are central to SCF’s work, and to its deepening ties with operators, vendors and regulators in the sub-continent.
The same themes will be familiar to many operators from around the world, and to the broad ecosystem of equipment and silicon vendors which are eager to understand the requirements of such a high growth region. That will make the SCF event in Mumbai uniquely valuable to any organization, anywhere in the world, which needs to understand the particular needs of India and its neighbors.
If you are an SCF member and want to learn more about Reliance Jio’s revolutionary approach to LTE, and the broader challenges and opportunities in the Indian mobile market, make sure you secure your place at this important meeting.