Indian telecom landscape and opportunities
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Qlink community member Rudra Sen and Qlink Toya gave us a YouTube live talk yesterday, discussing about India telecom market, IoT and Qlink roadmap.
A brief introduction about India’s telecom market.
**Rudra:**It’s an exciting time for Indian telecom — the opportunities are immense. The entry of Reliance Industries’ Jio in 2016 changed the game. (Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited is an LTE mobile network operator in India.) Data prices are now some of the lowest in the world and the market has been a consumer haven for the past two years.
But the level of telecom in rural areas has imbalance of development. Rural markets remain extremely underserved, parts of India are complete black holes of connectivity and there remains a large gender gap in access to mobile and broadband services.
Big players from Google to Airtel to even TRAI have time and again attempted to increase Wi-Fi connectivity through setting up public Wi-Fi hotspots. These efforts have seemingly proved fruitless, with India lagging far behind with a mere 31,500 Wi-fi hotspots. TRAI recently announced under its ambitious Bharatnet venture that it is is aiming to set up 5,00,000 new Wi-Fi hotspots in the country by the end of the year. Despite this, the scope for improved network connectivity in a country as large as India remains immense.
Toya: It sounds like there are room to improve the telecom services, especially in the rural areas where new base stations should be deployed.
The market has been developed and now two big players: Jio and Airtel
Smartphone market — Jio phone and its advantage Data package, how does it support more business models including live streaming business.
Rudra: That is certainly what I see happening in the short-term but the duopoly of Airtel and Jio is not quite in place yet. And even assuming it does happen, Jio might not enjoy an easy run here. Airtel still holds a majority of the market share and is acquiring partners and smaller players at breakneck speeds.
While Jio opened the floodgates for cheaper calling and data rates, Airtel has certainly caught up. Where Jio really seems to walk away with the edge over Airtel is in the current market off the back of its low-cost smartphone launch — JioPhone. The JioPhone while basic is still popular among certain segments.
Toya: How would Jio and Airtel have new growth? Fixed network requires large projects, as well as mobile. Towers, sites, indoors, peak hours problems need to be solved. Big video, live streaming business, gaming businesses and the soon to arrive IoT, connected cars all requires wider coverage and faster speed. The current model is seems not flexible, as the same as other regions in the world.
Rudra: Well Toya, that’s actually an interesting point. While this large-scale consolidation has largely seen the emergence of Jio and Airtel as dominant market forces, we can also observe a diversification in their approaches. One of the biggest overlaps in this diversification process has been their approach to ‘Over-the-top’ content — Airtel with it’s newly revamped Airtel TV and Jio with it’s JioTV and JioCinema offerings. The two telecom giants are aggressively pursuing content, music and entertainment partnerships. While that is not only interesting, it makes for a number of mobile-first trends — be it Amazon Prime tying up with Airtel to provide their services for free or Reliance Jio tying up with and buying a stake in AltBalaji. The lines between mainstream media channels and telecom is increasingly blurring. And this is making for exciting developments for the viewer — be it ‘behind-the-scenes’ directors takes on Bollywood movies or be it Virtual reality viewing of cricket matches.
Toya: A very locolised market. And I would like to explain to our viewers how and why IoT will be relevant to telecom industry. There will be tones of data transmitting from your devices and applications, like your car. With inputting small chips, all related data will be transmitted by the internet. IoT is an exciting concept for all over the world not only India. That will be millions of fragmented data exchanging. But we observe the current situation is that data usage slicing is not convenient. In fact, this small amount of data can be recognized if we build this IoT application on the blockchain as a registered telecom asset. By implementing the smart contract, we can track the data usage. And that is why by utilizing blockchain technology you can have a more flexible data usage. Decentralized telecom will be very useful for this IoT world.
Toya: Speaking of, how is Indian’s perception and sentiment regarding cryptocurrency?
Rudra: While many Indians have heard of Bitcoin, a basic understanding and awareness surrounding blockchain technologies is still lacking. Rumours are rife that Mukesh Ambani’s son Akash Ambani is forming a team to look into building a possible ‘Jiocoin’ cryptocurrency. Decentralisation is not a new phenomenon in India, home to perhaps the most infamous decentralized solution in the world, the Dabbawallas (or tiffin-delivery) of Mumbai, the subject of many a management study. Be it the kitchens of the mid-day meals at government schools or the ‘Kabbadiwallahs’ (recycling service) spread across metros of India, informal economies occupy every strata of Indian society. And for better or for worse, decentralization has long been at the heart of large-scale solutions in the country.
Rudra: And we are interested in the Qlink basestation. What is the roadmap of it?
**Toya:**I am really proud of this Qlink basesatiton. By implementing the basestation, we can provide not only the software which will be built on the public chain of telecom industry but also the hardware. Working with car manufactures, the basestation will be launched in Q4 2018. You can have your own basestation in your car, in your office or at your home providing network coverage. More than that, the basestatition will compute the mining power. And there are a lot of opportunities we can discover. For example, in Indian rural area.
**Rudra:**What will be the future of mobile network?
Toya: Qlink is not just addressing one problem or identifying one obstacle in this industry. We are trying to build a protocol on blockchain, a public chain for the entire industry. So when I first join this industry two years ago, everyone was talking about Bitcoin all the time. And then there was Ethereum featuring smart contract. The whole blockchain will be sliced into different layers and protocols. And we are happy to be the one who are building the protocol for the telecom industry. Every business whether you are content business, IoT, consumer who wants to run your own network. Of course, Qlink is open source. And we welcome you to develop your business on Qlink, the world first decentralized mobile network. We start from something small, building a MVP dApp which is already available in Github featuring Wi-Fi sharing and wallet. The process is running as planned.