Telecom companies not the only ones looking at acquiring 5G expertise

Topics 5G | 5G technology | 5G in India

Firms with solid presence in telecom practice expected to be at an advantage to leverage the market opportunity from 5G
Tech Mahindra’s closure of a nearly $1-billion deal from existing client AT&T last week may be the first of many such large pacts expected in the space as telecom companies are not the only ones looking at acquiring 5G expertise, according to experts. 

Companies with a strong digital presence across IT services landscape stand to gain even if the deal bundles are smaller. “Companies with a solid presence in telecom practice will certainly be at an advantage to leverage this market opportunity from 5G. While telcos are expected to lead the first phase of technology implementation, other applications and innovations are likely to grow in tandem, which will open market growth opportunities for tech players,” said Raja Lahiri, partner at Grant Thornton.

Last week, Tech Mahindra announced bagging a mega outsourcing contract from its largest customer AT&T, which was looking to modernise its IT network, shared systems and shift to the cloud. The US-based telecom major also works with other service providers such as TCS, Infosys, Wipro, and Cognizant though the exposure is said to be smaller.

“It is not surprising for a Tech Mahindra to win large deals in 5G space as telecom has been its core competency. However, even companies like TCS and Wipro have bagged large deals in the space. Indian companies tend to favor larger deals in general,” said D D Mishra, a senior director at consultancy firm Gartner.

“We see this (AT&T) deal as an investment that Tech Mahindra is likely making to get a large referenceable project top market to the global telco universe that is on the cusp of pivoting to the 5G era and is looking for a vendor to squeeze out savings from its existing IT investments. We suspect the Verizon-Infosys deal announced a year back likely falls in this category too as Verizon pivots to 5G,” wrote Girish Pai, analyst with brokerage firm Nirmal Bang.

Pai believes competition in the telco space — both on the 5G implementation and the preparatory part of 5G (when costs would be squeezed out) — would be fairly high. While Tech Mahindra works with almost all large telcos globally, it will find stiff competition from IBM, Accenture, TCS, Infosys, and Wipro.

In recent times, Wipro has collaborated with Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and IIT Kharagpur to collaborate on 5G research. During a recent interaction K R Sanjiv, chief technology officer, Wipro, had said the company’s major areas of investments around 5G were in developing technology skills in New Radio at FR1 and FR2, baseband processing, micro-services architecture, network automation, and multi-access edge computing (MEC). 

The company is also making investments into cloud radio access network (C-RAN), 5G core network, network orchestration, and network virtualisation.

“We foresee a huge uptake in engagements involving 5G. We have a variety of training programmes and internal projects, which will help ramp up teams and skills in large numbers,” said Sanjiv.

Infosys has also been working upon advanced IoT use cases (applicable to 5G) with customers. 5G is expected to transform and enable many industry application including digital, banking and payments, AI, automobiles, etc.

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