INTERVIEW: HFCL’s Gangey says 6G still far away, must first monetise 5G

Informist, Friday, Nov 24, 2023


–HFCL Gangey: There is still significant time for 6G tech to arrive

–CONTEXT: HFCL pdt strategy head Gangey's comments in an interview

–HFCL: Economics should decide gap between 2 wireless networks launch

–HFCL Gangey: Need to separate hype from reality on 6G technology

–HFCL Gangey: See significant potential for 5G wireless broadband

–HFCL Gangey: In talks with operators in Europe for wireless broadband

–HFCL: In talks with cos in North America for wireless broadband pdt


By Vivek Kumar


MUMBAI – A lot of today's buzz around sixth generation, or 6G, technology is "hype" and "visionary" in nature, and it will take a significant amount of time for it to become reality, according to Manish Gangey, executive president of product line management at telecom equipment manufacturer HFCL Ltd.


When it comes to the gap between the launch of two wireless network technologies, "economic considerations have to take precedence over technology" so that there is enough time for monetisation, he said.


"If we look at the evolution from 2G to 3G to 4G and now 5G, the gap has been reducing. (From) 2G to 3G, (it) was almost a 15-year gap, and to 4G was another 10-12 years gap; 4G to 5G happened in like five years," said Gangey in an interview to Informist on Thursday. "These are very large infrastructures which we roll out, and we need to give time for monetisation."


"Though I'm a technologist, and I'd love to bring in new technologies (that are) faster, better, and more efficient, economics has to play a very important role," said the IIT Roorkee alumnus.


At the India Mobile Congress last month, several political leaders and industrialists pitched for India to lead the world in the development of 6G technology. Just a year ago, at the previous edition of the event–considered the largest telecom, media and technology forum in Asia–India had launched 5G technology.


"In the 4G and 5G era, we did not participate early enough, and therefore, we missed the technology bus in some sense. And that is what we should not do (with 6G),” Gangey said. “Therefore, all the effort is in that direction – making sure that researchers, industry and academia are putting their energy into that."


He said the hype around 6G must be separated from reality. "From the standardisation perspective, (6G) is sitting in 2030. (Only) then will a really useful standard come out, which may have some aspects of 6G that are significantly better than what the '5G-Advanced' has to offer," he said.


Telecommunications technology major Nokia defines '5G-Advanced' as the next level of 5G network that is expected to bring "enhanced capabilities beyond connectivity and enable a wider set of advanced use cases".

Telecom operators globally, as well as in India, are yet to make any major strides in the monetisation of 5G investments. Indian telecom operators currently do not charge any premium on 5G plans compared with 4G plans. 



With an aim to monetise the 5G investments, Reliance Jio Infocomm and Bharti Airtel Ltd have launched wireless broadband connectivity networks that will run on 5G technology.


To cater to the demand for wireless broadband, HFCL launched its 5G Fixed Wireless Access Customer Premise Equipment, popularly known as 5G FWA CPE, at the India Mobile Congress last month.


"I think there is a significant potential. And if you really look at our products, all the three operators are interested. All the three operators are (testing) the devices for the network," Gangey said.


Gangey, who has earlier worked with both Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, sees wireless broadband as one of the key tools for monetising 5G investments as of now.


"This is the only monetisable service that is available today. Everything else that we talk about as the potential of 5G is a little bit out in the future, and (comes) with a heavy dependence on the rest of the ecosystem to come around," Gangey said. "This is one service where there is no dependence. Telcos go, put up the infrastructure and start to offer the service. There is really nothing else."


"Everything that you have on your mobile today gets very well serviced by the 4G network. The 5G network really has not been put to great use by mobility applications. And therefore, fixed wireless broadband has become extremely important for both operators and users," Gangey said.


He said though indoor Customer Premise Equipment devices make up 70-75% of the global shipments in this space, the demand in India is currently higher for outdoor Customer Premise Equipment devices.


HFCL is currently in conversation with telecom operators in North America, Europe and some Middle East Asian countries, with regard to its fixed wireless access device, Gangey said. "Our products are ready for the global market. As we see the operators' interest, we'll fine-tune the product to their frequency and get to the market."



Gangey shed light on the research and development process before the launch of a product. "Product-building is a long-term process," he said. "If you want to start from scratch, there is a significant part where we spend time figuring out the applicability of the product, market dynamics as to what the rest of the world is doing, and what the competition is doing." 


He said it takes anywhere between 12 and 24 months to put a product in the market, depending on the complexity.


"The process of figuring out the product you want to build takes around three months, and then you go through this process of design…. So, once you have spent time figuring out what you need to build, from then on to bringing out the product in front of the customers is like a 15-month cycle," said the product expert.  


The New Delhi-headquartered company's consolidated revenue for the year ended March rose marginally to 47.43 bln rupees, while net profit declined nearly 3% to 3.17 bln rupees. The telecom and cable segment contributed 83% to its topline, while the rest came from the defence and the railways segments.


At 0925 IST, shares of HFCL traded 1% higher 67.70 rupees on the National Stock Exchange.  End


Edited by Ranjana Chauhan


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