Ashok Cherian, CIO, Emami AgroTech
One of the most talked about topic, Telecom is drawing eyeballs of every one. There was a time when Telecom was the topic of certain sections only. But today it is an overarching theme in the march towards progress. Everyone talks about ‘E-Highways’, ‘Internet as a Fundamental right’ etc. Globally and in India the need is compelling for Governments, Corporates and the public to internalize the need and work towards improvements. Connecting people and interests has no boundaries across the globe and any meaningful deployment of this needs to be powered by Telecom.
We continue to hear about 4G, 3G etc, but the reality bites and we bump into ‘NoG’ pockets even in the metros to the towns and obviously the villages. While there is lots of discussions underway, I feel there is yet to be concrete plans with clear targets which the Government and the Telecom providers agree to. I do not want to dwell upon the political reasons, but certainly the momentum needs to be stronger and each of us can do a lot in making this a priority for tomorrow. Imagine a scenario of the farmer getting quality access facilitating crop planning with predictive weather forecasting, warehousing facilities to stock the produce and finding the buyer willing to pay the maximum in a mobile app powered by Telecom! Yes, transparency will kill middlemen but what do we need as a nation? While M-Commerce and E-Commerce is being attempted to cut costs and deliver value to the buyer and the seller, what is the biggest bottleneck in a doption? T he a nswer c learly i s ‘Telecom’. India has great people with fantastic ideas but there needs to be infrastructure support for making them a reality. Telecom can ignite this and generate millions of jobs in many domains including technology.
Corporates are still struggling to unleash the power of mobile applications with limitations in Telecom capabilities. While options in the corporate networks with MPLS and Leased lines has retired the good old VSAT’s, there continues to be major challenges in service levels. Expectations of ‘rugged networks’ from the corporate world is challenged many times with high costs of redundancy and also longer restoration times. Last miles continues to haunt and when coupled with less service oriented service providers the hope of a fearless good night sleep still looks far. ‘ Working from home’ is a pet idea of the employees but corporates still finds it difficult to institutionalize this primarily due to Telecom challenges. Interestingly what could be a better idea to decongest our roads and bring down pollution?
What can be a better way to conduct Governance without E-Governance? While many Governments has started realizing this, there are variances on agreeing towards this across all the Governments and Governmental bodies across India. Hopefully awareness on E-Governance is spreading and hope to catch up in the coming years. But can this work without the Telecom infrastructure on which it needs to ride? Again we get an emphatic ‘no’. There needs to be more public consensus building towards this and then it will follow, only if we have enough bandwidth and connectivity options. I remember experiencing the true 4G speed in Shanghai in China in the year 2009 with a lot of excitement but unfortunately even in year 2015, in the national capital I am yet to see that happening. There is clearly catching up required with Telecom capabilities, its quality, stability and spread in our country to face this world which has no boundaries.
Does this all mean there is nothing happening? Absolutely no. There has been tremendous progress in Telecom expansion. The service providers are seeing the writing on the wall clearly and they are coming out with innovative products and solutions. The only pertinent points for discussion is the speed of execution and quality focus. The technology community like us as well as other stakeholders should get more actively involved and demonstrate sponsorship and I sure this will further reassure Governments and the Telecom companies on the opportunity. More discussions and brainstorming starting at lower levels scaling up to national levels spreading awareness and clearing the mental roadblocks are needed. With telecom already becoming an integral part of our young generation’s life they are sure to realize the needs faster and make it a national priority. Let us make it a part of our own priority and then its bound be heard and accepted nationally.