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BW Businessworld

Bullish About India Market Scope, Biz Prospects From 5G: Sterlite Tech MD

Sterlite Technologies announced that Anand Agarwal would step down as CEO and director of the company with effect from December 2 and appointed Ankit Agarwal as managing director of the firm with immediate effect.

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Digital networks integrator Sterlite Technologies (STL) is bullish about the India market opportunity, including business prospects arising from upcoming 5G deployments, Ankit Agarwal, who recently took over as managing director of the company, said.

Agarwal - who transitioned into the role of managing director last month amid top-level leadership changes at STL - further said that right spectrum pricing will act as catalyst for 5G rollout, enabling large-scale investments to be channelised into building networks in the country.

STL is "encouraged" by government's efforts and focus on connectivity projects, Agarwal said adding India would need to double down on its optical fibre infrastructure, ramping up by deployment by almost 4-5 times to ensure robust 5G experience for users.

On October 8, Sterlite Technologies announced that Anand Agarwal would step down as CEO and director of the company with effect from December 2 and appointed Ankit Agarwal as managing director of the firm with immediate effect.

Ankit Agarwal, a whole-time director, has been with the company since 2010, most recently as chief executive of the optical business, and drove global customer wins, strategic acquisitions, global talent addition, capacity expansion, and revenue and order book growth.

Speaking on the business prospects in India market, Ankit Agarwal said STL is "excited" about the growth opportunities that are emerging here, and is "encouraged by government efforts on connectivity projects like Bharat Net."

"STL is taking leadership in India in building end-to-end 5G technologies. We have already partnered with companies like Facebook as part of Evenstar program to build 5G macro radios...That's something that we are very well-placed about, and we will be shortly launching those products for global operators, but equally for India," he said.

The company has already launched cables and connectivity solutions for enabling 5G globally, and hopes to play a significant role as operators start deploying these new age networks.

"So literally starting from our cables, connectivity, looking at our portfolio on the wireless and software, including our entire network deployment, whether it is for deployment of fibre or tomorrow deployment of wireless networks... STL will play as an end to end system integrator," Agarwal said when asked about the how the company plans to leverage 5G opportunity in India.

The right pricing of auction is an important discussion as it will enable massive investments to flow into building 5G networks, as opposed to large part of capital being used up for spectrum-related payments.

The government should, therefore, provide right pricing for spectrum taking into account global benckmarks and health of the Indian telecom sector, he said.

"Huge amount of network investment will be required in India for next 5-7 years to enable right experience on 5G...Also, despite its scale, India deploys 1-12th the amount of optic fibre compared to China in a year...This has to scale up by 4-5X, especially if we want to provide right experience for 5G and ensure we are going to world standards," he said.

With its portfolio spanning optical fibre and cables, network design and deployment as well as network software, Pune-based STL positions itself as an integrated solutions provider for global data networks, with optical preform, fibre and cable manufacturing facilities in India, Italy, China and Brazil.

Massive networks are being created globally in the areas of 5G, FTTx (a term used to describe various optical fiber delivery topologies), and Open RAN (Open Radio Access Network) with an increased focus on optical connectivity. This has led to rapid growth in fibre demand and a buoyant long term outlook for industry players.

With a global footprint, fibre capacity of 50 million fibre kilometers and planned cable capacities of 42 million fibre kilometers, STL says it is very well positioned to lead in this decade of network creation.

Sterlite Technologies recently posted 81 per cent year-on-year jump in consolidated net profit for quarter ended September 2021 at about Rs 106 crore, aided by performance in Europe and Americas region.

STL's revenue rose 30 per cent to Rs 1,508 crore in the second quarter of the current fiscal (Q2 FY22).

"STL recorded Rs 15.08 billion in revenues with about 43 per cent coming in from the EMEA region and about 12 per cent from Americas, demonstrating increased global traction for its integrated digital network solutions," the company had recently said in a statement on quarterly earnings.

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