Vodafone India: “It is important to drive adoption of NFV and SDN on the network side”

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At a time when telecom operators are looking forward to evolving their network infrastructure to the next level – while at the same time controlling on the OpEx and CapEx – NFV and SDN are fast gaining ground as a great way to enable next generation-ready network transformation.

In an interaction focused around the ‘Disruptive Telecoms – World Telecom report 2020 by TelecomDrive.com’ – Vishant Vora – Director – Technology, Vodafone India speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com on the importance of NFV and SDN and how Vodafone is looking at IoT and the Smart Cities space.

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What are some of the big network trends that are likely to shape up business opportunities for operators in the coming years?

Customer behavior is changing. There is a shift from Voice to Data.

M is the future with mHealh, mCommerce, mEducation. The digital space is changing with Massive data Explosion. There is going to be convergence of Information, Communication and Entertainment. Information and Decision making will be required to be instantaneous & Architecture is getting evolved to Flat with transport at the core. Everything would be offered as a Service.

The big network trends that are likely to shape up the India telecom operators like Vodafone India are:

  • Increasing data consumption to support applications like 2K/4K videos, real-time multi user gaming, intelligent data sharing
  • Carrier aggregation to enable high speed
  • Network cloud convergence with IT cloud
  • Convergence between mobile and fixed networks to deliver customer experience
  • Location Intelligence integrated with network analytics

How do you as a truly global operator look at NFV and SDN adoption on the network side in the coming years?

Cloud will bring in the convergence of Network & IT. Various business platforms will be created by the virtualized network. It will enable Orchestration & Resource pooling.

SDN will enable Service Chaining and Network Slicing.

For Vodafone India, it is important for us drive the adoption of Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Network (SDN) on the network side in the coming years. Our approach to drive this adoption are:

  • Work with the OEMs to identify key network functions which can be virtualized on cloud and agree the virtualization road-map which can deliver rapid network service provisioning and efficiencies
  • Bring in module baseband at the site and central NFV based platforms
  • Ensure cloud based resilience and redundancy
  • Bring in common infrastructure Mobile Access, Core & Fixed services

We are already in a data era with 4G coming into picture – and hence, at a time when operators look for better data monetization – what is your mantra to succeed?

For Vodafone India, 4G is not a revolution but an evolution. We have already built a strong IP network with connects our 4G Infrastructure enabling us to deliver faster data speed. With IP infrastructure, we are already ready for 5G and for adopting new network technologies.

Riding on our strong network infrastructure is our Service Delivery Platform which enables us to provide network analytics and intelligence for better data monetization.

For Vodafone India the mantra is:

  • Build SMART NETWORK with focus on network coverage, quality, and performance to improve customer experience and enhance brand image.
  • Bring in PRODUCT EXCELLENCE with focus on Services & Tiered pricing based on customer segmentation & customer needs.
  • Provide INNOVATIVE SERVICES by monetizing existing network and services, while enhancing offerings. Innovate to use MBB to offer a complete mobile services experience.
  • Build NEW BUSINESS MODELS by partnering with content providers, devices, mobile platforms and verticals to create a valuable proposition for MBB users

Quite increasingly we are moving towards an “Application driven Economy” where it is all about creating digital opportunities. How do you look at this as an opportunity to deliver unique customer experiences?

For Vodafone India, creating digital opportunities provides us with an amazing opportunity to create a Digital India thereby delivering unique customer experience. For us mobility is at the heart of providing a digital experience and the key opportunities are shared below:

  • Expanding our mobility 3G/4G reach beyond tier 1, 2 and 3 cities to focus on rural India
  • Enable rural India with a simplified payment system like M-Pesa to enable online payments, e-commerce
  • Enable each customer with a MyVodafone app with built in digital experience features like change tariff on the go
  • Collaborating with OTT and application developer community to deliver customized and unique experiences
  • There is an increase in the penetration of smartphones and internet.

Apps are undoubtedly a great way to help people get access to information on-the-go. They are definitely stickier than the web. Given the always on nature of mobile devices, apps can deliver a more relevant and personalized experience to users based on their location and other preferences.

Superior Network Performance becomes a key in order to deliver unique customer experience by providing best connectivity everywhere, superior network coverage and quality with reduced latency

Internet of Things is becoming increasingly important today – what is being done by your organization towards enabling IoT ecosystem in various markets that you are operating?

All devices that benefit from an internet connection will be connected. In this Networked Society, every person and every industry will be empowered to reach their full potential.

Internet of Things (IoT) technology is a key enabler of this vision by delivering machine-to-machine (M2M) and machine-to-person communications on a massive scale.

The IoT revolution offers huge potential value in terms of improved efficiency, sustainability and safety for industry and society. The variety of applications and solutions designed for individuals, business and industry is spurring the rapid expansion of the IoT market. The IoT is playing a major role across a variety of vertical sectors, generating cost savings, new revenue streams and other benefits.

Each IoT application needs a clear value proposition and business logic in line with the prevailing ecosystem, business models and value chains of the various stakeholders. For all applications, solutions need to be integrated on platforms that can scale and handle millions of devices efficiently. Business processes for administration, provisioning and charging will have to be streamlined to minimize costs and enhance the business case.

For IoT applications, existing cellular networks offer distinct advantages over alternative WAN technologies, such as unlicensed LPWA. The global reach, QoS, ecosystem, TCO, scalability, diversity and security of cellular networks are all vital factors that can support the fast uptake and success of IoT. Enabled by new software in existing legacy networks, cellular networks can support a diverse range of IoT applications – ensuring the lowest possible TCO.

We are working to have the Connectivity in place. Have IoT Platforms for Device Connection & Service enablement. Putting together our Enterprise IT and Business Processes & having the IoT rollout in place.

IoT is a big focus area for Vodafone Group and also for Vodafone India. In India, we see tremendous opportunities from our enterprise customers, government institutes and potentially from high ARPU consumers. We have already deployed our IoT SIM Management platform in India which enables us to deliver an end-to-end IoT services to our customers.

In the IoT space, we see opportunities in Smart Cities, Smart Homes, Connected Car, Industrial Production and Connected Health.

Whether it is enabling next generation communications, Wi-Fi, Small Cells deployment or surveillance technologies – all the major cities of the world are looking forward to becoming true smart cities. What is your strategy as an operator to power this initiative? 

For any cities to become a smart city some of the following challenges need to be addressed i.e. Energy, Public Safety, Transportation, Connectivity, Pollution, Governance etc.

Various solutions are been worked upon to put together the Building blocks of Sustainable City. We will deploy technology with responsibility to create a positive impact & use the same technology to transform humanitarian response.

Working in the direction of Energy efficiency and optimizing CO2 footprint.

Solutions to address the needs of the unbanked population with mobile financial services by connecting banks, money transfer organizations, and payment and loan providers.

Smart Metering Solutions etc.

Smart Cities is a key focus area for Vodafone India and our strategy is to leverage our IoT platform to connect key building blocks of a smart city eco-system. Smart City will require next generation communication systems, Wi-Fi, Small cells, surveillance technologies, smart meters, high speed data access and IP back-haul to support the connected city.


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