Vodafone India: “The internet was designed to be an open and neutral platform”
Viral Patil is Assistant Manager, Network Quality at Vodafone India, and is speaking on Day Two of the LTE Asia 2012 conference, taking place on the 18-19 September 2012 at the Marina Bay Sands.
What have been the main developments and major milestone for you over the last 12 months with regards to LTE?
The major milestone in last 12 months has been the first time launch of LTE services in India by Airtel. The potential of data services in India is huge and LTE will make mobile broadband services available for Indian customers.
How important are small cells to your network roll-out plans?
Small cells are very important for offloading network data traffic. Considering the limited spectrum allocated to the Indian market, they become a very interesting value proposition.
What impact will technology such as IMS and Joyn have for you?
IMS and Joyn are the technologies that all mobile operators are targeting in the next five years. How these technologies will shape up in India all depends upon user requirements. However, considering user behaviour in India, it is likely that they will be slowly adapted.
Do you think that VoLTE will have an impact and if so, in what time frame?
VoLTE is not going to have much impact, as traditional 2G voice services are available at the cheapest rate in world in India. So even if it’s launched, it faces tough competition in the Indian market.
There has been successful downward pressure on roaming charges within the EU – is this also an issue for you?
As per the new National Telecom Policy 2012 in India, roaming charges are going to be completely eliminated. In the EU, the share of the roaming charges will be taken up by some other value added services.
Do you think that network sharing between operators is necessary to make LTE roll-outs affordable?
Absolutely. It is essential and logical. Network sharing has been successfully implemented in India. Considering the huge geography of India it was inevitable to use it for survival of the service provider.
Net neutrality remains a contentious issue and has recently been enshrined in law in the Netherlands. What is your stance on this?
The internet was designed to be an open and neutral platform for the world to communicate on.
Is there enough innovation occurring in the mobile network industry? Can you provide some examples?
Innovation in true sense has stopped happening in mobile network industry. The reason is that people can live without mobile connectivity but they can’t live without food. So currently the trend of innovation is that a customer wants everything free or at some minimum monthly rental. Innovation to me was the discovery of light bulb by Edison, which truly changed human life drastically. Even with introduction of the mobile phone, people are communicating but that hasn’t changed the way they want to spent their leisure time.
What do you expect to see in the industry in the next 12 months?
In next 12 months I would expect to see more focus on increasing the penetration of mobile broadband services to rural and urban masses of the world. There will be new operators launching LTE services, with some of the older operators trying to provide a better customer experience.