The Future of Private Networks Is in the Hands of Big Business: Anand Bhaskar, MD – Service Providers, Cisco India and SAARC


Recent recommendations from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India have supported the concept of private networks where companies can set up their own 5G systems for their captive data needs. This has led to a debate with private telecom operators who oppose such a move as they fear it will affect their business revenue. Anand Bhaskar, Managing Director, Service Providers, Cisco India & SAARC, in an interview with Kiran Rathee of Fe, said that apart from government policy, the future of private networks will also depend on the type of companies that l would opt. Excerpts:

Q) Telecom operators are opposed to the concept of private 5G networks because they believe it would reduce their company’s revenue. How does Cisco view the issue?

A) Private 5G networks would require a lot of expertise. Security issues are a major concern in India and companies must have licenses and other regulatory approvals. So, aside from government policy, one would also have to see how many large organizations would be willing to take up spectrum and build their own 5G network. Some countries in Europe and Asia have granted frequencies to private companies. We work in partnership with telecommunications service providers and the government to help put this in place.

Q) Suppose that if the government allocates spectrum to businesses, would Cisco provide its solutions to businesses or would it still prefer to work through telcos?

A) We will follow the policy. From a technology enablement perspective, Cisco provides both. We work with our telecommunications service providers and we work with our corporate customers. So according to the policies made by the government, we will work in accordance with that.

Q) Basically, does this mean that if companies are able to get spectrum directly, Cisco can configure their entire network?

A) Yes, but we will wait for government policy. From a technological point of view, we allow both.

Q) What are Cisco’s 5G private network solutions?

A) We would provide private 5G as a service to businesses in partnership with system integrators and telecommunications service providers, leveraging our packet-based and mobile-based technology as well as our network-based services. ‘IoT. 5G offers many benefits to customers in terms of bandwidth, ability to carve up the network for specific use cases, and more. We’re just extending that business ability to operate from the office to where they want to work from.

Q) Network as a Service (NaaS) is an emerging area in the cloud space allowing enterprises to benefit from a subscription model for their telecommunications connectivity needs. Please explain how this concept works?

A) Fundamentally, NaaS is a cloud-based, usage-based consumption model that allows enterprises to acquire and orchestrate network capabilities. This gives them a lot of agility, flexibility, and the ability to scale up and down that traditional networks didn’t allow them to do before. This is clearly why NaaS is on the rise. Previously, companies had a data center where all of their applications resided. Everyone would sit in the office. The network would be point-to-point connectivity between the user’s office and the data center. With the cloud operating model and the cloud business model, everything has changed dramatically. You have companies that use multiple clouds. Now people are no longer in offices, people work from anywhere. So that’s where this whole NaaS journey is where companies pay for it on a subscription basis and use it as they go.

Q) Who are you likely customers for this service? Telecom operators or companies?

A) We will have customers who are enterprises and enterprises, but we will work with large system integrators and telecom service providers as they will need to be part of the ecosystem to complete the entire value chain for the end customer.

Q) What type of cost savings will companies be able to realize if they adopt the NaaS model?

A) While the cost savings will definitely be there in the long run, I think what CIOs and CTOs are looking for today is flexibility, agility and the ability to scale – what that provides .

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