How have the network requirements of telecom operators changed over the years?

Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic increase in data consumption in India, especially video, as more consumers turn to WhatsApp and YouTube for content. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, monthly data consumption per smartphone in India will reach 15 GB by 2024, a more than twofold increase from 6.8 GB in 2018.

Further, India will have more than 1 billion smartphones by 2024. The rising number of increasingly powerful mobile devices, along with the increasing use of social networks and online video services, is driving service providers to come up with new ways to efficiently and cost effectively meet the data demand. For example, the recent introduction of low-cost 4G phones is accelerating the phasing out of 2G and 3G networks in India. Emerging technologies such as 5G, internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and big data are also adding pressure on networks. To keep up with the rapidly evolving demand from users, operators are taking steps to strengthen their networks. They are investing in packet optical, advanced software and Edge computing innovations to transform their networks to be more agile, flexible and programmable.

How is Ciena contributing to the Indian 5G ecosystem?

Ciena is playing a key role in India’s 5G ecosystem. Our 5G connectivity portfolio comprises packet and optical solutions targeted at converged 4G/5G fronthaul/midhaul for digital radio transport over standards-based new L3 IP support for intercell connectivity. It also includes software-defined networking (SDN) features such as Blue Planet Manage, Control and Plan, and Multi-Domain Service Orchestration and a longer-term roadmap that leverages mobile-specific analytics and rich telemetry. Ciena’s professional services are also a part of our 5G solution. They help in the migration from 4G to 5G.

We are working with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to help prepare its network for 5G in India as noted in our recently signed agreement. Together, we intend to jointly evaluate fronthaul, midhaul and backhaul transport-based use cases and scenarios to address the resiliency requirements and latency concerns, as BSNL prepares its network for the impending evolution towards 5G.

How is Ciena’s Blue Planet software portfolio faring in India?

We are seeing customer interest in our Blue Planet software, which has gained traction in India and across the globe. Recently, we announced that Ciena is working with Bharti Airtel to create one of the world’s largest photonic control plane networks. Airtel has deployed Ciena’s Blue Planet Manage, Control and Plan domain controller, which expedites alarm and fault management, service provisioning, node backup and restoration. We have also expanded our Gurugram campus to support continued growth of R&D globally. We have also set up a second building to house a large variety of functional groups such as Blue Planet.

What role is Ciena playing in the data centre space? What opportunities do you foresee in this segment?

With the rise of 5G, IoT and the cloud, operators are setting up data centres closer to their subscribers to improve the user experience and reduce latency. Ciena is well positioned to address this shift with data centre interconnect (DCI), a technology that connects two or more data centres over short, medium and long distances using high speed packet-optical connectivity. As the popularity of bandwidth-intensive content such as video streaming continues to rise among Indian consumers, we expect to see a steady demand for more high-scale DCI solutions.

What are the opportunities under the Digital India initiative and Smart Cities  Mission in terms of business growth?

Digital India and the Smart Cities Mission will go a long way in strengthening digital infrastructure. We are committed to supporting the government in these path-breaking initiatives, and our solutions will help operators expand their networks cost effectively in remote, unconnected areas.

What is your roadmap for Indian operations in the next five years?

India is moving fast towards a digital-first economy that can change the lives of millions of people. According to Ovum, operators in India are reporting the highest data consumption of mobile broadband. India’s operators need network architectures that are intelligent, flexible, automated, agile and programmable. These terms are not new, but up until now, they were more of a lofty goal than an attainable reality.

Ciena is a leading provider of all the major network builds in India. In the coming years, we will continue to develop new and innovative optical, packet and software solutions to create more intelligent and adaptive networks, which can cater to India’s digital economy.