Arvind Mathur, Corporate Consulting Engineer, Research & Advanced Development
Internet is at an inflection point in India and the market is well-positioned for massive adoption as efforts of various stakeholders start to converge and gather momentum: Government (Spectrum, Policies, Mandates, National Broadband Network, Regulation), Industry (3G and 4G networks, fiber access, Public Private Partnerships, content/application development, new business models); Consumers (fueled by strong uptake of social networking and entertainment services, adoption of Smart Devices), and Enterprises (internet-based business services, collaboration, cloud services). The convergence of technologies and convergence of users is setting up the stage for India’s Internet horizon.
India has massive potential for Internet growth, but in an environment that is challenged by limited infrastructure, affordability issues and accessibility in terms of India-centric content and applications delivered in local languages. The total wireless subscriber base is now close to 900 million in the country.
This hyper-growth in the mobility sector underscores
a) the latent subscriber demand that was previously un-met by wireline access,
b) the importance of wireless technologies for vast coverage across varied terrain profiles that is deployed in dramatically shortened timelines,
c) that India is very sensitive to cost and affordability of telecom services – and that as a market it can support massive uptake in growth – provided service providers have the right services at the right price-points, and
d) that innovation in business models across the value-chain is key to market sustainability and profitability. Clearly, India has developed into a ‘mobile-first economy’. The challenge and opportunity for India is thus: how do we now replicate the unparalleled success of mobility for the Internet?
Internet usage in India
The latest Internet subscriber count now stands at 23 million*1. However, importantly the ‘mobility revolution’ of recent times has had a very positive impact on the growth of ‘wireless data’ subscribers and estimates put the number of wireless data subscribers at about 432 million subscribers.
This wireless data adoption is an important indicator – a precursor -- for the growth of wireless internet and broadband growth in India as 3G and 4G networks are deployed and broadband services over these networks becomes available and get absorbed to the yet un-served bandwidth/application-hungry community of subscribers. Besides the pre-dominant DSL access for Broadband Internet (85%), Cable Modem Technology (5%) and Ethernet LAN (5%) are other competing technologies in the internet access space.
Internet growth opportunities and market potential
India is served by approximately 190 ISP’s, and about 155 Broadband Service Providers*2 – although only 28 of these providers share 99% of the total broadband subscriber base – this skew exemplifies the lack of affordable broadband infrastructure across India on one hand, and also the lack of subscriber uptake (affordability, content) on the other. The total revenue reported by the Internet Service providers (for the quarter ending December 2011) was approximately US$ 600 million. Innovative VAS are an important dimension to Internet growth in India, which include ‘verticalized’ services in the health and education segments amongst others which are strongly funded through multiple Government programs.
It is apparent, and logical, that wireless technologies will continue to play an important role for Internet access in India; supported by the recent regulatory steps for the digitalization of the CATV network that mandates CATV operators to migrate to digital modems in the wireline access network.
The business opportunity in the India Internet space is accessible primarily via the following avenues:
1. Working with SPs, CATV providers, mobility service providers (especially as 3G and 4G networks emerge, and CATV regulatory mandates become effective) and ISPs (they own significant spectrum and infrastructure on the ground and customers in both consumer and enterprise segments)
2. Accessing the largely untapped rural broadband market (95% of broadband subscribers are in Urban areas). The Bharat Broadband Network floated by the Government of India will play a crucial role in delivering affordable bandwidth access to all types of service providers (local- regional- national telcos, ISP’s CATV providers, content service providers etc) over a common fiber network in the core and aggregation network that will be agnostic to the deployment of a range of wireline and wireless technologies in the access network.
3. Working with India-centric content and applications developers that can provide local language support.
Last month I attended the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Russia, along with our CEO John Chambers. Together we participated in the Skolkovo Foundation Council Meeting (held quarterly) where we discussed strategies for increased momentum for Skolkovo. During the forum, John reiterated Cisco’s long-term approach to the country and highlighted the growth and potential of Russia within the context of tough economic times elsewhere in the world – a tremendous opportunity both for Cisco and for Russia.
Two years ago we made a commitment to support the Russian Government’s modernization agenda. Since then we have achieved visible progress in promoting a close partnership with the Russian Government by:
Aligning our activities in Russia with the country’s government course
Supporting Russia’s intention to modernize its economy and infrastructure, building upon the legacy of innovation that is a part of Cisco’s DNA
Offering technology and knowledge to help Russia achieve its national goals
Putting our positive stance on public-private partnerships and collaboration into action
A global company like Cisco is involved in public-private partnerships in innovating and renewing communities in many countries of the world. In Paredes, Portugal, Cisco is collaborating with Living PlanIT to develop PlanIT Valley, a sustainable community built on technology that transforms the area into a connected community running on next generation technology. Another example is Cisco’s work with McCaffery Interests in redeveloping the Chicago waterfront to revitalize the area.
I often get asked though, why partner with Russia? I wanted to share some of our thinking with you.
At Cisco, we view Skolkovo as a platform for future growth and innovation of new and emerging technologies. Russia is home to world-class talent in basic and applied sciences, offers a great education system that creates a workforce that has the ability to think differently, and a tenacious and persistent work ethic. These qualities in addition to Russia’s rich history and tradition of discoveries in science and research that has extended for centuries, makes it a perfect choice for Cisco’s innovation incubation efforts.
Cisco is invested in the success of Skolkovo. Earlier this year we outlined our Research and Development plans with the Skolkovo Foundation and are already executing on them. We are now beginning to hire our first engineering team in Russia focused on developing new emerging technologies.
Our plans at Skolkovo don’t stop at software development. As a key partner of the Foundation, we are actively involved in many important areas. For innovation to thrive, the right creative environment is required for the free flow of ideas and capital. Later this year, Cisco will support startups with funding through the launch of our second Skolkovo Innovation Award, focused on discovering and rewarding new promising startups in the areas of Healthcare and Education. We will provide technology and tools to all participants and reward the best startups with seed funding. The support for entrepreneurs through venture capital funding is in line with Cisco’s strategy to nurture innovation from talented people all over the world, as our work with the Almaz/Cisco Venture Capital Fund shows. To date, the Almaz/Cisco Fund has invested in 12 companies, of which 2 have residency in Skolkovo, and another 3 are in the process of applying for residency.
In the area of education, we will launch Cisco’s Entrepreneur Institute at Skolkovo Technopark, which will train Skolkovo Residents on how to develop and grow successful IT businesses. Beyond Skolkovo, we plan to partner with Russian educational institutions on joint technology development and research projects for emerging technologies. This will allow graduate students and researchers to co-develop technologies with Cisco engineers and validate their research against the needs of the marketplace. This extends our education investment in Cisco. Another example is our Networking Academy program in Russia, which was refined a year ago when Cisco announced its intention to triple the number of academies in this country, from 217 to 650, enabling 16,000 Russians to be trained each year by 2015. We are well on our way to meeting this goal.
In closing, we believe there is tremendous opportunity in Russia and we applaud the country for investing in its future and its people by spurring innovation, job creation and economic growth.
Frantisek Jakab is the Program Manager of Cisco Networking Academy in Slovakia
Russia’s concerted efforts to grow indigenous talent received significant boost recently. Cisco, the global leader in networking, and Sistema JSFC, Russia’s largest public investment company, have announced collaboration to enhance the quality of ICT education in Russia.
Why is it important? Russia wants to foster innovation locally via projects like Skolkovo that aim to create an ecosystem for innovation. To run that ecosystem, Russia will need local talent: world class technologists and entrepreneurs. The “Lift to the Future” project, launched by Sistema late last year, intends to be a vehicle to groom such talent from schools and universities by offering tutoring on Russia’s first youth tutorage network.
Cisco and Sistema JSFC Signed MoU to Enhance Cooperation and Help Modernize ICT Education in Russia Photo: Elena Shmeleva (Sistema) and Paul Betsis (Cisco)
At ‘Social Lifts for Talented Youth -- Best Russian Experience’, a pioneering conference held by Sistema in cooperation with Moscow State Lomonosov University and Vedomosti daily newspaper, Cisco and Sistema have signed an MoU. According to it, Cisco will donate network equipment and provide access to its education programs. In addition, the company will carry out skills-upgrade courses for teachers of the educational establishments involved in the project. From its own side, Sistema will help Cisco to expand the Cisco Networking Academy™ program in Russia. Moreover, both companies intend to collaborate in launching student competitions, forums and summer schools to support talented Russian youth.
Elena Shmeleva, vice president of Sistema Charity Foundation, gave Cisco credit for being the first company to support the “Lift to the Future” project, stressing that “Education content provided by Cisco, as well as its unique training methodology will become a basis for training skilled ICT professionals and supporting Russian IT education within this project.”
During his first official visit to the U.S., recently elected Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev visited Cisco’s corporate headquarters yesterday and met with John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco. President Plevneliev and Mr. Chambers discussed the role technology and IT adoption can play in driving economic growth and competitiveness.
Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers and Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev at Cisco HQ
Mr. Chambers informed the president about Cisco’s activities in Bulgaria and reconfirmed the company’s commitment to the country. Cisco has been present in Bulgaria since 1999 and has been actively contributing to building a knowledge-based economy by creating an ecosystem of more than 200 local partners.
The company also has a developer team based in the capital Sofia, who are focused on developing Cisco Quad, a highly-innovative enterprise collaboration platform. Cisco Quad helps connect people to information and expertise they need, when they need it. It helps facilitate the sharing of knowledge and ideas across geographic and organizational boundaries. Virgin Media, Nike, GE and Bank of America are some of Cisco’s global customers who already use the Quad platform. Collaboration is one of Cisco’s five strategic priorities.
Cisco’s largest corporate social responsibility initiative, Cisco Networking Academy, has been active in Bulgaria since 1999 and there are currently more than 50 academies operating across the country. Since its launch in Bulgaria, more than 17,000 local students have participated in the diverse IT and networking courses offered by the academy.
President Plevneliev was accompanied by Elena Poptodorova, the Bulgarian ambassador to the U.S., James B. Warlick, U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria, as well as a delegation of Bulgarian business leaders. Cisco Bulgaria general manager Borislav Dimitrov also joined the meeting, whilst Peter Hajdu, Cisco regional manager for South East Europe and a team of Cisco Bulgaria employees participated virtually using Cisco TelePresence technology.
We look forward to continuing the strategic partnership between Cisco and the Bulgarian government and working together to advance the president’s innovation agenda.
What is singularity? The word has several interpretations in mathematics, geometry, natural sciences and technology. Increasingly, it is used to describe an exponential emergence of technological development with the potential of changing the world as we know it.
Singularity University (SU), located at NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley, was established in 2008 to create a global network of like-minded entrepreneurs, technologists and young leaders, dedicated to innovation and exploring the ways to singularity.
To make its efforts truly world-wide, SU launched a series of Global Impact Competitions, including one in Central and Eastern Europe, which is nearing its finals at the end of this week. Supported by Cisco, the competition reached thousands of university students, young entrepreneurs and business people in the region. Organizers were looking for innovative project ideas which could improve the lives of one million people in a 3-year period with the help of technology.
54 applications were submitted from eight countries, addressing issues of health, education or security. The minds behind the six most outstanding projects will get together on May 4th in Budapest, Hungary, to present their ideas and compete for the grand prize, an invitation to Singularity University’s summer course this year, worth 30 000 USD. The jury will be chaired by noone less than Professor Erno Rubik, the inventor of the Rubik cube.
So cross fingers for the finalists and their exciting ideas and watch this space to find out who wins later this week:
Agnieszka Gaczkowska, Poland: Drug waste -- web-based service for used medicaments location and drug shortages alerts
Tamas Haidegger, Hungary: Hand Hygiene for a Healthier Planet- innovative education and objective control on personal hygiene
Vaclav Plevka, Czech Republic: Avoiding the Gridlock Incident in order to Keep the Conurbations in Operation