Davos 2020: GSMA’s Laxmi Akkaraju Says India Must Step Up Efforts To Help Telecom Firms Move Towards 5G
A woman walks past an advertisement for 5G services. (Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)

Davos 2020: GSMA’s Laxmi Akkaraju Says India Must Step Up Efforts To Help Telecom Firms Move Towards 5G

India needs to ensure “rational” spectrum prices and offer support in “fiberisation” to help telecom operators shift towards 5G, according to Laxmi Akkaraju, chief strategy officer at GSMA.

“I think what’s really important is that the Indian government steps up and becomes a facilitator and helps operators make these types of investment,” Akkaraju told BloombergQuint on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Davos 2020: GSMA’s Laxmi Akkaraju Says India Must Step Up Efforts To Help Telecom Firms Move Towards 5G

India’s largest wireless carriers have been demanding a revision in the proposed base price for spectrum auction of 5G—which can reach data speeds of 10 gigabits per second, about 100 times faster than 4G—claiming that the rate was too high. That comes as they are bleeding after Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. upended the world’s second-largest telecom industry with dirt-cheap data plans. The Supreme Court’s ruling that carriers will have to include non-core revenue to calculate levies dealt a further blow.

“There are particularly low ARPUs in India. But 5G investment is huge,” she said. “From what I understand, in India we are talking a $60-70 billion investment in the next few years for mobile operators.” The nation, according to Akkaraju, is on the brink of a very “unique opportunity” because 5G brings with it really “fantastic use cases” like smart cities and massive data transfers. “So, one can do a lot of videos and live entertainment.”

Also, in India, “the real opportunity will be in rural areas as 5G will bring the opportunity to expand connectivity to rural areas in a much more economically feasible way”, she said.

Watch | GSMA’s Laxmi Akkaraju on 5G and other mobile technology trends for the decade...

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