Digitisation & public networks to boost IoT adoption in India

Internet of Things
The government’s push for greater digitisation, widespread public Wi-Fi networks and localisation of smart devices will be crucial for better adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), say top executives from the software sector.

IoT, which works on a set of connected smart devices, primarily through the internet, has made its way into industrial production and solutions. It could soon extend to the consumer market. The market in India, it is estimated, could grow to Rs 1,00,900 crore by 2020 from Rs 29,600 crore in 2015. And, companies from various sectors are increasingly focusing on leveraging the potential of the market here.

According to P K Purwar, chairman and managing director, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam, his company is working to increase its presence in the space. After  having set up thousands of connected security towers in Mumbai, it plans to add Wi-Fi zones around these. “In the initial phase, we are installing 500 and plan to add another 1,500 soon. While wireless connectivity providers are expected to gain, players like us who provide internet through wires would be indispensable, as (wireless) spectrum is limited,” he said.

According to Shyam P Mardikar, technology head for mobile networks at Bharti Airtel, adoption of IoT will get a boost as internet connectivity improves. “Data services are still considered a discretionary item in individuals lives. After 2020, it is expected to become essential for daily life. The usage pattern will also change. Currently, 70 per cent of the data are used for entertainment like watching videos. Going forward, virtual and augmented reality on IoT platforms will become key,” he said.

Apart from seamless high-speed internet connectivity, smart devices at cheaper prices are essential for successful adoption of IoT. “The five-year plan laid down by the government encompasses increasing of local manufacturing of mobile handsets to 500 million a year by 2020 and local value addition to 70 per cent,” says Hari Om Rai, chairman, Lava International. He chairs the committee that is supervising the plan.

Nasscom, the apex sectoral body, says nearly 65 per cent of the 120-odd companies working on IoT in India came up after 2011. It estimates India’s share of the global IoT market ($328 billion) will reach five per cent by 2020.

Aeris India, an IoT platform provider, is trying to leverage the potential in the medical services space through setting up an eco-system of devices and software, says Rishi Bhatnagar, president. “While 70 per cent of the population resides in rural areas, 80 per cent of paramedics are stationed in cities. However, health care advisories can be offered to the unattended patients through IoT,” he said.

However, the poor public internet network remains a concern, among others. According to T V Ramachandran, chief executive of TVR Consultancy Services, while eight million public Wi-Fi sites are required, the country has only 32,000 at present.

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