By Bhavya Dilipkumar, ET Bureau | Updated: Oct 18, 2019
NEW DELHI: Indian telcos now are increasingly exploring sourcing equipment from home-grown telecom infrastructure companies due to rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China along with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Chinese gear-maker Huawei, said Anand Agarwal, group CEO, Sterlite Tech (STL).
"We find that most of the telecom companies who were talking about how for anything that we (STL) manufacture there is a Chinese alternative, are now looking at us more favourably as they are uncertain about how the Chinese ecosystem will change," Agarwal told ET.
From just a manufacturer of optical fibre and cables, STL has evolved into an end-to-end data network solutions provider, partnering with global telecom companies, cloud companies, citizen networks and large enterprises.
This fiscal year which started in April, STL has invested close to Rs 2000 crore in increasing its manufacturing capacities to cater to rising demand for its products.
"We have already done close to Rs 2000 crore of investment in creating various capacities across the ecosystem. We have gone from 30 million kilometers of optical fiber to 50 million kms. We have done almost Rs1200 crores of investment there", said Agarwal.
Apart from these, the company has also invested around Rs 300 crores on cables and acquired a data centre network infrastructure company, IDS Group, based in the United Kingdom, for 12 million pounds.
"In the past, we (STL) were taking only a very small sliver of the global capex which is around $220 - 230 billion, and we could access only $5-6 billion out of that. Now, with the market expanding and the ecosystem getting better, we can access about $75 billion" said Anand.
With immense data demand and 5G push, the government aims to increase fibre footprint in India five-fold by 2022, from the current 1.5 million route kms. As networks go ubiquitous, and 5G and Fiber to the Home (FTTH) densify access, there is an urgent need for deeply fiberized networks.
In August this year, the Cabinet has approved the National Digital Communications Policy 2018 that focuses on facilitating fibre-to-the-tower programme to enable fiberisation of at least 60% of telecom towers thereby accelerating migration to 4G or 5G.