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"Smartphones have an integral part to play in the connected world of future"

Kuldeep Malik
Country Head – Corporate Sales International, MediaTek India Technology Pvt. Ltd.
  Manoj Gairola |  | 02/11/2016

MediaTek, world’s leading Fabless semiconductor company, is growing very fast, thanks to increasing demand for connected devices. In an interview with Manoj Gairola, Editor of TelecomTiger, Kuldeep Malik, Country Head – Corporate Sales International, MediaTek India Technology Pvt. Ltd. shares his views about the industry trends and the market. Excerpts:

1. MediaTek is known for designing chipsets for consumer electronics and fables semiconductors. When did you start designing chipsets for IOT?

MediaTek has been continuously delivering best-in-class technological solutions across categories since 1997, and entered the India market in 2004. With steady growth, we are now Asia’s largest and worldwide #3 fabless semiconductor company, by revenue.

After successfully establishing the Company in feature phone market in India, MediaTek entered the Smartphone business in 2011 and since, has seen a steady growth with continual innovative solutions across 2G, 3G and 4G LTE. We have been successful in delivering solutions timely to meet market requirements in India. Say for instance, our LTE platforms already cover the available LTE bands, and key features such as VoLTE/ViLTE/VoWiFi, and we have begun working towards fulfilling the upcoming market requirement such as carrier aggregation to fulfill higher bandwidth demand in the coming times.

While we still see the Smartphone trend going strong, as a leader in the technology domain, we also see business opportunity in upcoming Internet of Things (IoT) domain. With the support of Government initiatives like the ‘Digital India’ and ‘Smart City’ as well as global trends, India is now fully gearing up to adopt IoT with full force . To support this further, a recent Nasscom report states that India aims to capture 20 per cent market share in IoT, an emerging sector which would be worth $300 billion by 2020.

With similar positive developments, MediaTek stepped into the Indian IoT space last year to deliver solutions for smart devices such as wearables, watches, trackers, healthcare, home appliances, connected facilities, utilities and more.  We have a dedicated IoT business unit that solely looks after this market segment. Our recently launched SoCs - MT7687 and MT7697 come packed with a wide range of features that include seamless WiFi integration and optimal power consumption for the upcoming smart home market in India.

2. IOT is growing very fast in the world. What is the status in India in view of low broadband connectivity? Does poor quality of network such as frequent call drops affect IOT penetration?

A McKinsey Global Institute research has estimated that the impact of the Internet of Things on the global economy might reach $6.2 trillion by 2025. Laterally, there is a significant rise of smartphone usage globally. Consumer demand for smartphones jumped from about 170 million devices sold annually just four or five years ago to more than a billion devices in 2014.  Closer to home, India has also witnessed a growth of 17% in the shipping of smartphones for the April-June quarter.

So obviously, there is dramatic growth and demand in the market. We don’t expect this to slowdown anytime soon. The addition of new connected devices means that bandwidth will need to scale to support everything from the microwave to the smart television. There is also a multitude of devices that are being connected to make homes safer; smart locks are now available that let you remotely lock the door to your home from your smartphone or even your PC. All of this will require to be done remotely from your smartphone.

This natural trend towards added convenience will not only improve safety in the home but also impact the overall lifestyle of consumers. At the same time, these trends are also expected to increase the strain on networks, in part due to connected entertainment.

In addition, now with 4G services easily available, consumers are also looking to stream and upload video, which puts an added strain on bandwidth. The downstream video can range from YouTube to Hotstar, or popular apps in which the need for ample upstream bandwidth is critical like Skype and Instagram.

These applications and devices create a need for significantly higher aggregate (downstream plus upstream) data rates.

Though the demand exists, to be met, we need wider network bandwidths.

To make IoT a success in India, the government and companies need to aggressively push towards improving the current state of broadband connectivity, using channels like encouraging investment in fiber program and monitoring the progress.

Currently, under the Digital India campaign, the government has prioritized three areas of development; the first of which includes the Bharat net program to connect 250K village panchayats across the country through Fiber by December 2016 (via broadband highways). The second phase of development will include customization of content for the masses. For this, the quality of network provided across India needs to be improvised. By 2018, the government plans to cover more than 40,000 villages under the banner of mobile technology. Finally, for third stage of development, i.e. to empower the citizens, the requirement will be to link technological developments such as IoT and broadband connectivity to the upcoming infrastructure.

3. Mobile telephony is evolving very fast. Twenty years back it was only voice, about 5 years back data became important. What is the next big thing in mobile communications?

The mobile space has indeed been evolving quite fast. So we saw voice in the beginning, then we saw voice on the move with feature phones, voice with added features like email etc. with smartphones and more recently we see rise in demand for data. We also see technology innovations to ensure this evolution keeps expanding with constant movement across 2G, 3G, 4G LTE and now VoLTE.

But at the base of this evolutionary cycle, the key objective remains the same i.e., connectivity. More and more people are finding new ways to connect with each other and this need for increased connected environments is what is working as the key driving force of the mobile telephony industry.

With more IoT devices and technologies being developed, smartphones have an integral part to play in the connected world of future. With favourable government initiatives and policies, we expect data consumption to grow further along with more connected devices.

4. What are the plans of MediaTek in India?

MediaTek has a solid presence in the Indian smartphone scenario. We continue to associate with most of international brands such as ASUS, Sony, Lenovo, HTC, LG, Meizu, Oppo and Gionee as well as all national smartphone brands including Micromax, Karbonn, Lava and Intex to deliver best-in-class Smartphone devices for consumers. At the same time, we are also venturing into new markets, like IoT. We have already established a strong market for MediaTek in the IoT space, and continue to work across key segments like M2M, Wearables and Connected Homes to ensure industry demand is met.

In addition to expanding product categories, we also seek to support Government initiatives like the ‘Make in India’. MediaTek has recently announced a Smartphone Design-Training program to foster and develop talent for India’s fast-growing handset industry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), India, Indian Cellular Association (ICA) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), Taiwan. MediaTek will share its smartphone design expertise, and leverage its well-established global ecosystem to support the program.

The two-and-a-half-month program, scheduled to start later this year, provides hands-on training to managers and senior engineers from India on efficient planning and execution of handset design projects. The guidance and education offered through the training program will give engineers expertise to advance handset design in India.

With its strong support of the ‘Make in India’ initiative, MediaTek once again demonstrates its long-term commitment to this important market.

MediaTek employs 500 people in India now, and is expected to triple the number to 1,500 in three years. The company also actively invests in India''s innovation ecosystem. To date, MediaTek has provided US$100 million worth of funding to companies in the fields of semiconductors, IoT, FinTech, e-commerce and network applications.

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