In conversation with INN, Rohit Puri discussed why the 5G conversation still dominates the telecoms sector, even amid a global pandemic.
Despite economic challenges in various markets due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, in telecommunications one expert still expects the evolution of 5G technologies to command a stronghold in the business conversation.
In a recent interview with the Investing News Network (INN), EY Canada National Telecommunications Leader Rohit Puri spoke at length about the ways Canada’s telecoms industry has responded to the effects of the spread of COVID-19.
The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
INN: Every industry has been challenged by this pandemic. I’m wondering if you can tell me how the telecoms space in Canada has responded to this situation? What are the challenges that you’ve noticed particularly affect the sector?
Rohit Puri: I think telecoms has obviously been impacted. From an operations standpoint, we’ve heard a lot about operators dealing with virtual working scenarios, especially for call centers, field technicians, retail, those sorts of parts of their business.
But I really think telecoms has done a phenomenal job of adapting and pivoting very quickly towards more remote working scenarios.
Canada’s telecoms companies deserve a huge amount of credit and kudos for supporting Canadians … I think they’ve done a really good job in terms of managing their customers and dealing with operations.
INN: Do you foresee the industry fighting against unexpected challenges in the “new normal” we are in due to the pandemic?
RP: I think in every crisis there’s obviously a challenge, but a challenge presents an opportunity as well. As we do move and if the new normal is more remote working, more contactless services, I think it creates a real opportunity for telcos as well.
We will need to get into situations where we are monitoring … for example, footfall on the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission). We will need to know whether the platforms are overcrowded where the trains are, how to let people in in a safe and organized manner.
And then all of those sorts of things really create opportunities for new services, and those services are underpinned by telecoms networks.
Municipalities, governments and organizations like the TTC are starting to think about some of those challenges as well. What is the reality for them in the new world? And, you know, the reality is that a lot of those services that potentially now are essential will be underpinned by telecoms networks, right?
If I was an operator right now, I’d be thinking about the challenges that are being presented in terms of the post-COVID-19 world. How to react to those, how to build a set of services that are going to offer more contactless options, more digital services, more remote working capabilities.
Because those are the sorts of things that customers and the government will be struggling with.
INN: How have the big trends in telecoms for 2020 changed, from your perspective, following the outbreak of the virus? Or do you still see the same conversation points panning out in the rest of 2020?
RP: At the start of the year, regulation was a big topic in Canada. There was a lot of focus on telecoms and, in order to work with the government, issues around wholesale access and an opening up of networks, as well as the level of competition and how to stimulate that in the market.
I think 5G remains kind of a critical element that all telcos would have been focused on for the last sort of six months at least. Now it’s again brought back into focus, but with a slightly different perspective because the nature of the conversation has changed a little bit in that we all may be doing more work from home, and we need to get broadband services into more remote communities.
INN: What should investors and observers of the industry keep an eye out for with the continued rollout of 5G technology?
RP: If you think of the advent of telecoms over the last 10 years, it’s always gone consumer first, or consumer customers first. Then telcos have supplemented that with offerings for enterprise customers. I think 5G is going to be a little different, I think 5G actually is going to be an enterprise offering first.
Certainly consumers will look for increased broadband speed, because that’s what 5G enables. But the challenge there is really the incremental price point that you can drive, and how do you justify that to a consumer. But on the enterprise side there are real use cases that can be adopted and driven.
I think investors should be optimistic, whereas probably three months ago they were skeptical. I think we should be optimistic now because there’s a real sort of tailwind behind trying to find these contactless remote solutions at all levels of the economy. And that should put some wind in the sails of 5G.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.