The financial health of the Indian telecom sector is not very good. The telecom operators are already doing as much as they can to aggressively build infrastructure for a successful 5G rollout. However, there are still many challenges before them. The Digital Infrastructure Providers Association (DIPA) has written to the telecom secretary, K Rajaraman, expressing the need for fiber penetration in India and also considering allowing telcos to share fiber with each other.
Deploying optical fiber cable (OFC) across India would be a very difficult task to even achieve in the medium-term. Without fiber backhaul, it would be hard for the telcos to provide a good 5G experience to the customers. It is worth noting that deploying OFC is not only hard but also a very costly affair. Looking at the current financial health of the sector, DIPA has asked Rajaraman to explore the idea of sharing OFC networks for 5G deployment. It would help the telcos in savings in both opEx and capEx. Further, such a move would add positively to the cash flow of the companies.
Sharing OFC networks would also ensure that there is no duplication of infrastructure. Moreover, the time to market for the telcos with new technologies and services would reduce in several parts of the nation.
T.R. Dua, Digital Infrastructure Providers Association (DIPA), said that only 35.1% of towers in India are currently connected by fiber. Many in the industry have said that this figure should ideally reach 70% in the near term to enable a successful digital future for India. According to a GSMA report, the telecom players in India are expected to invest around $19.5 billion in the development of advanced infrastructure for 5G by 2025.