[email protected]: The Tech Tsunami
Technology and telecom has the ability to bridge the economic and social divide in a country like India
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The world is changing very fast. What is latest now, would become ancient in five years. Thirty years ago, when there were no mobile phones and Internet was used only for exchanging e-mails by university students and professors, no one could imagine its impact on our economic and social life. Who could have imagined that, in 2017, one would be able to order food from the phone and track it, while waiting for a cab ordered from a mobile phone?
A clear trend in telecom is that the world is moving towards digital. This is accelerated by the LTE network. Old telecom networks that were ‘circuit switch’ based are now moving towards Internet Protocol (IP). Reliance Jio’s network in India is completely IP based and voice is also transmitted as data. IP increases efficiency of networks manifold over traditional networks and enables Digital India.
A simple look at the agenda of ‘ITU-Trai Asia pacific Regulators Round Table Conference’, which is being held end of August, would indicate that digital has become priority for regulators. Out of six sessions, five are on digital identities, developing digital infrastructure, managing digital content, ensuring trust in digital content delivery and digital financial inclusion. Focus has shifted from technologies such as 2G, 3G and LTE to applications.
Another interesting trend is growth of Internet of Things (IoT) or ‘connected devices’ in simple language. IoT is basically inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles, buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enables them to exchange information.
A recent Ericsson Mobility Report forecasts that there would be around 29 billion connected devices by 2022, of which, around 18 billion will be IoT related devices such as connected cars, machines, meters, sensors, point-of-sales terminals, consumer electronics and wearables. Between 2016 and 2022, IoT devices are expected to increase at a CAGR of 21 per cent, driven by new use cases. By next year, IoT devices would surpass mobile phones that form the largest segment of connected devices at present.In India, IoT is at nascent stages. Tata Communications is a pioneer in IoT in India and has set up India’s first large LORA-based IoT network. It has plans for huge investments in IoT that shows there is a lot of potential in India.
The government is making an IoT policy. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) would soon bring regulations for IoT. According to a GSM Association (GSMA) report, the number of connected mobile connections will reach 25 million in India by 2020. In the next 30 years, IoT would be present in every walk of life. There won’t be any device that is not connected.
The benefit of technology advancement would reach masses only if the government services are digitised. If the government wants to provide top quality education and medicine services to remote areas through mobile networks, it will have to make necessary changes in the education policies. It will have to make proper investments and encourage entrepreneurs in e-education and e-medicine.
As the country would be moving towards digital world, cyber security becomes important. It is one field where India is lagging. Developed economies like the US and the UK spend billions of dollars every year in strengthening cyber security. However, in India, it is still not a priority. Even though the government has announced digital India programme, there is no budget for cyber security in it. According to estimates, the total investment that the government has made on cyber security is only about $10 million.
Technology has power to bridge social and economic divide between haves and have-nots. We have to be prepared for the tsumani of new technologies that are waiting to enter India and convert it into an opportunity.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.