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What to Expect From Indian Telecom Industry in 2020: BSNL 4G, VoWi-Fi, 5G Trials and More

We have already taken a look at how the year 2019 has been such a bumpy ride for the telecom industry. There have been many highs and many lows for the telecom industry in general, and for the subscribers as well. However, that does not mean that the upcoming year is going to be lukewarm in terms of innovation and services from the telecom companies. 2020 is going to be the year where the consumers are going to have their first brush with the fifth-generation network technology. Also, with the effects of the data tariff war now aside, there is going to be a new wave in the telecom industry where the financials of the telecom companies are expected to get better. So, let’s take a look at what the trends are going to be for this new year in the telecom industry.

5G Trials in India

2020 would be the year where we are going to see 5G in action in ground zero. Until now, the 5G network has been working inside the rooms and in testing conditions. However, with the 5G spectrum auction slated to be held in March 2020, the telecom companies might deploy the spectrum in select circles, if not at least a single circle by the yearend. This would mean that the subscribers might get to see some 5G network in action although it would not be a commercial rollout, and nowhere close to it, still, it would showcase the real-time network scenario of the technology and will give the public a peek into the new network technology.

Rise of OTT Content

2019 has been the golden year for Over-the-top content platforms, and in 2020, this effect is only going to bolster. We saw a lot of bundling in terms of OTT content with prepaid and postpaid plans. It is expected that BSNL will join this bandwagon in 2020 with more fervour whereas the other telecom operators will strengthen their offerings. In a scenario where the data and calling are cheap facilities, the telecom companies are using the OTT app

bundling to outcompete others, and this year, the effect is going to be all the more noticeable.

More Focus on Self Care Applications

Another area where the telecom operators have been differentiating themselves have been in the area of self-care applications. Keeping customer experience as top priority, the telecom companies are aiming to offer a better experience to the customers by means of self-care applications. For example, the addition of MNP tracking in the Airtel Thanks application or other services and integrations are being used to hook the customers and to get them to spend more time on the application. The MyJio application now also comes with JioSaavn integration and lots of more features. This year is going to see more innovation and feature-packaging in the self-care apps as well.

Airtel Digital TV and Dish TV Merger

Although no major merger conspired in 2019, that might not be true for the year 2020. It is quite possible that one of the major M&A events in the country could be the merger of Airtel Digital TV and Dish TV, which is set to make the largest DTH company across the world. In the Indian DTH industry, this merger will lead to an entity which will boast of having 60% market share of the DTH market. With the talks underway now, the merger is likely to be finalised in a few months.

Further Tariff Hike

The further tariff hike would be one of the things that will pinch the subscribers. With the rise of the minimum recharge limit, we are already getting to see some hints about the floor pricing. If the floor pricing mandate comes into effect by Trai, then the telecom companies are expected to further hike the tariff, which will be a beneficial move for the telecom industry’s financial health.

Increased Prominence of VoWi-Fi

In terms of innovative technologies, one of the things that we are going to see more of is Voice Over Wi-Fi. The VoWi-Fi technology is going to see more prominence in 2020, and a lot more operators are expected to roll it out. On the other hand, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are likely to commercialise the technology in a full-fledged manner with more and more areas across the country getting VoWi-Fi support and more smartphones enabled with the feature.

BSNL 4G Pan-India Rollout

With the revival package from the government now in BSNL’s hand, the telecom operator is expected to undergo administrative spectrum allocation and thus finally deploy 4G network across the country. While select areas are experiencing BSNL 4G network currently under the testing, there has not been a pan-India rollout of the service. However, in 2020, it is expected that BSNL would be able to roll out nationwide 4G services.

Arpit Sharma

Arpit spends his day closely following the telecom and tech industry. A music connoisseur and a night owl, he also takes a deep interest in the Indian technology start-up scene and spends rest of his time spilling poetry and stories on paper.

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Arpit Sharma