MFA met with Mandala Insights‘ founder Shiv Putcha as part of our ongoing conversation with analysts and industry experts to discuss private network trends, and discuss the Mandala Insights report, “Changing Trends in the Private Network Deployment Landscape,” to shed light on the current private network situation in India alongside the country’s 5G rollout. Below is a recap of that conversation, particularly aimed at India-based enterprises considering private network deployments of their own.
MFA: What prompted this report?
Shiv Putcha: The main driver for this report was to draw attention to the importance of the enterprise segment for the success of 5G deployments in India. Much of the discourse in India has traditionally been focused on the consumer segment and smartphones. Enterprise digital transformation is a relatively new theme in India, and private networks will be a key driver. Also, there has been relatively little in-depth coverage of this space in India, so we felt it was an important time to release such a report.
MFA: What do you see as the biggest hurdle and/or advantage for deploying private networks in the region?
Putcha: The biggest hurdle is spectrum and the framework within which enterprises can gain access to suitable bandwidth. The regulatory environment in India prioritizes the auction of spectrum and predictably, the country’s incumbent mobile operators are up in arms about the prospect of spectrum being issued to an enterprise for a paltry administrative fee. While there has not been an official announcement, all current indications show that enterprises will not be allowed to acquire spectrum directly. Rather, they will have the option of “leasing” spectrum or working with telcos for a managed service. The other big challenge is a lack of relevant use cases for the Indian context. This will take time as 5G network deployments are still in the early phases.
MFA: Which industries do you think would benefit most from private network deployment and why?
Putcha: While there are several verticals undergoing digital transformation, we believe that three stand out:
- Utilities are the first, covering both the electricity and natural gas distribution markets. Around the world, utilities are investing in field area networks (FANs) that operate within a private network deployment to cover endpoints like smart meters and others.
- Manufacturing is the next vertical of interest. The “Make in India” program launched by the Government is seeing a lot of traction and there are several use cases already evident in manufacturing facilities, from automated vehicles to employee safety to inventory control and more.
- Transportation is another vertical that we believe will see demand for private networks. In recent years, India has experienced massive investments toward transportation-related infrastructure. The most visible manifestation of this is in the thousands of kilometres of new roads and expressways that have been built, but also in new airports and port infrastructure.
MFA: Can you share any particularly interesting findings from your report?
Putcha: Mandala Insights projects that by 2027, total spending on private networks in India will rise to $240 million, including managed services, equipment leasing and direct CAPEX by enterprises. Only a quarter of sites will be deployed as dedicated, standalone networks run by enterprises. The majority will be deployed as a Service (aaS) by Communication Service Providers (CSPs) or System Integrators (Sis).
MFA: Any trends/changes in the market that you’ve seen since your initial report that you find interesting?
Putcha: Since we published the report last year, the regulator is hard at work to come up with a framework for private networks. Besides conversations around how to allocate spectrum, there has also been discussion about whether to create a separate, dedicated spectrum band for private network usage; similar to the n79 band being used in North Asian markets like Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
MFA: Where can readers find your full report and when do you expect the next one to be published?
Putcha: As this report is client-access only, the simplest way would be to reach out to me through LinkedIn. We can share an exec summary with anyone interested.
Shiv Putcha is the Founder and Principal Analyst at Mandala Insights. Shiv is also the publisher of a new blog/newsletter, Beyond the Next Billion, that is published on LinkedIn. Prior to founding Mandala, he covered the telecommunications industry in Asia-Pacific for IDC and Ovum, along with stints at the Yankee Group, Qualcomm and LogicaCMG while based in the United States.