5G will be next big growth driver for digital economy

MUMBAI: The second day of the FICCI Frames 2019 had a panel discussion on ‘Digital Economy 2.0: Powering innovation and consumer choice’ which discussed the need of the policy to be re-imagined across segments – from communication to content with the growth of digital platforms in India.

The session witnessed a keynote address by Aditya Birla Management Corporation Vice Chairman Grasim Industries & Director Telecom Himanshu Kapania and NITI Aayog Additional Secretary, Knowledge Innovation Hub Yaduvendra Mathur.

It was followed by a panel discussion moderated by PwC India- Entertainment, Media & Sports Advisory Leader Partner Raman Kalra and panelists were Star India President & General Counsel Deepak Jacob; Eros International Media Group General Counsel Aamod Gupte; Arre Founder & CEO Ajay Chacko; Netflix Director, Strategy & Development Director Sohni Kaur; and Broadband India Forum Senior Director Technology and Policy Debashish Bhattacharya.

Himanshu Kapania said, “As connectivity increases exponentially digital industry is going to be integral part of people’s lives. India’s role in the emerging global order cannot be emphasised enough. The tremendous economic energy India is generating has pushed us to be the fastest growing economies. This year, we are all geared to become the fifth largest economy and we will be 5 trillion economy by 2025.”

He also said, “And I’m thankful to the television industry as well as the movie industry who have developed what we call the digital platform as a concept and that content is driving penetration and gives us the confidence we will be able to meet Prime Minister’s goal that have been put up of a billion Indians successes internet largest in the world beating China by 2023.”

While delivering the keynote address at FICCI Frames 2019, Yaduvendra Mathur informed that the digital economy is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2025 and as per the National Digital Communication Policy, the Internet of Things ecosystem is targeted to expand to 5 billion connected devices by 2022.”

Setting the context to begin the discussion, Raman Kalra said, “In the true 5G environment, digital economy 2.0, the lines will blur out between the industries and between the traditional way of looking at things which means there would be even a higher need of responsible behavior or being responsive.”

The discussion focused on what the digital economy will fuel up in terms of creativity, innovation, revenue models, in content creation, content assimilation, and consumer choice and behavior.

Debashish Bhattacharya said, “We are in 2019 and in the 4G era, where the average speed that one gets based on the latest services in the range of 20 to 25 Mbps. When 5G kicks in we would get speeds of 1 Gbps and above per consumer. To give an example what 5G can do for you, for an average consumer, we will be able to download a full-fledged Bollywood movie in four seconds flat on a 4k platform. ”

He also said, “To be able to have 5G, we would need to have fiber connectivity to all the existing towers as well as to the new cells that are going to be created because of 5G kicking in. The current broadband networks today are likely to get choke once the Video Traffic grows to a certain level and the capacity of the each video grows. So there is a solution which is in the 5g technology architecture where in the video traffic can be diverted to be broadcast network, which will run parallel with the broadband network.”

Sharing his view on how is content creating shaping up, Ajay Chacko said, “People have gone back to watching shows and movies on their devices, which means that the market is actually going towards premiumisation of content. It means that people are actually watching longer form content, episode after episode.”

He also said, “Last year, there were only 250 hours of original content created and today it has already gone to 1200 plus. And I think in the next couple of years, I don’t see it going to the 65,000 hours of television probably generated because it was more factory line. But I see close to eight to ten thousand hours of content coming up.”

Sohni Kaur said, “Discussion around technology and content is an amazing one. But is very important to remember that content still remains the centre of that, right. So, the consumer wants to consume the content and the consumer doesn’t care whether it’s on Netflix, Hotstar or Arre, they want to watch the content that they want to watch. So in terms of having a more engaged interactive experience, I think, with content certainly technology has enabled that right.”

Explaining his view on self-regulation, Deepak Jacob said, “Today there are 30 online video destinations, and we’ve got platforms likes of Netflix, Amazon and it’s just been an exponential explosion of choice for consumers. When we look at that in the regulatory policy context, the great part is that there is no policy and there is no regulation. And so, therefore, that is what drove innovation.”

He further opined, “Whether it is content based regulation, or Economic Regulation, it must be looked very specifically with the lens to say that I need to understand the impact and the unintended consequence of that regulation. Unless you are able to get your hands around the unintended consequences do not regulate.”

Agreeing with Jacob’s view on self-regulation, Aamod Gupte said, “There are multiple ways to control it through technology. So there is absolutely no need to have one piece of regulation for all types of content.”

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