5G spectrum should be sold at fair price: Nunzio Mirtillo

Sweden’s Ericsson, the world’s biggest telecom gear maker, will continue to invest strongly in India, which it considers a challenging — and big — market. Nunzio Mirtillo, head of India, SE Asia and Oceania markets at Ericsson, told ET the government needs to price 5G airwaves fairly to drive Digital India. Edited excerpts:

How do you see the wireless business growing in India?

India continues to be amongst the top 3 countries globally. We have grown and will continue to grow in coming quarters. India is an extremely challenging but also a big market, where Ericsson will continue to invest.

Which areas are major growth drivers for Ericsson?

There is a huge increase in consumer demand. As many as 800 million people are waiting to be a part of the connected ecosystem. Out of the 400 million that today are connected, a big portion of that number would be ready to pay for quality services, which is an untouched revenue potential in the market. Also, India will soon adopt 5G as it will allow you to get production cost of gigabit at a lower cost. Obviously, the ecosystem has to do its job.

Telcos have been asserting that 5G spectrum prices should be affordable. Your views?

The government must make the spectrum available at a fair price. It might get little bit less benefit directly from the spectrum allocation as compared to the indirect benefit of providing services. This will be a great move in pushing Digital India.

Ericsson had also received a letter from DoT for 5G trials. What’s the update?

When it comes to real field trials, they need to be started by the service providers first, with the regulators. We will be a part of that. We have pacts with Bharti Airtel and BSNL.

Vendors in India are saying that these 5G field trials require a lot of investments. Are you open to make these investments?

It will be more of a collaboration as everyone has to do their bit. It will be a shared investment between different suppliers, operators and the government.

How is the managed services business performing in the Indian market?

It is obviously very challenging because everything is moving so fast right now. When the uptake of traffic is so fast, it means the operators need to take actions in real time. So, it’s becoming a complicated job. That’s why we are also investing as much as we can on automation and AI.

Do you plan to expand the Pune manufacturing facility?

When we will get volumes for 5G, we will start using our factory… It will all depend on the volumes. So currently we use that factory for VoLTE technology since the volumes are high for it. Every time there is a need to scale up, we will adopt. Exports have already started for 5G.


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