[TechSparks 2020] Launch of 5G will open up opportunities for new services, says Qualcomm Ventures MD Varsha Tagare
Implementation of 5G network may play a crucial role in accelerating digitisation in India. The country’s digital economy is expected to touch $1 trillion by 2025, driven by increased use of smartphones, greater internet penetration, growth of mobile broadband and data usage, and wider use of social media.
While speaking at YourStory’s flagship event, TechSparks 2020, Varsha Tagare, Managing Director at Qualcomm Ventures, said that 5G implementation is accelerating around the world, and at least 80 operators globally have already deployed the network commercially. He said that almost 750 million 5G phones will be distributed within the industry in two years.
“From 3G to 4G, it was a transition for us towards shared mobility services or having services like Netflix or Hotstar on our phones. The transition from 4G to 5G is really about very high throughput and low latency communication. It implies that all sorts of communication which require SLA (service-level agreement), including critical communications such as 911 or emergency services which initially ran on dedicated networks, can now be run worldwide on a spectrum that will be available in any corner of the world,” Varsha said in a conversation with YourStory Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma.
She explains that adoption of 5G will open up opportunities for new services which were not possible earlier such as enabling factory automation, machine automation etc.
Varsha Tagare, Managing Director at Qualcomm Ventures in conversation with Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO of YourStory at TechSparks 2020
Investing in technology transforming networks
Addressing the audience, Varsha says that implementation of 5G will require network transformation and new networks will have to be built. Technology companies will help in transforming the network and Qualcomm is supporting some of the players working in this space.
“We are funding some places in India while the others are from the US, Israel, and China. In the US, we have invested in a company called Affirmed Network which now works under Microsoft. In India, we have invested in Bengaluru- and California-based startup, Zinier, which provides field service management to telecom operators,” she adds.
The managing director also believes that 5G network will bring in new use cases in the multi-player gaming sector, and will also provide the technology needed for telehealth. In 5G, the investment opportunities will lie in the technologies that are transforming and maintaining the network, and new uses cases.
Speaking about the readiness, Varsha says that technology-wise, India is prepared and that a lot of 5G-enabled mobile phones have already been announced. She adds that the networks will soon be launched and that telecom giants such as Airtel, Jio, and Vodafone will launch their 5G network plans.
According to Varsha Tagare, implementation of 5G will open up opportunities for new services which were not possible earlier
COVID-19 impact on investments
The Qualcomm managing director explains that the availability of capital is very strong and robust despite the crisis situation, and this capital is chasing high performing companies which are either growing organically or are showing strong tailwinds due to COVID-19.
“In this event, if companies can execute the plan then it is an asset worth taking. From our side, we have been highly selective while placing our new bets and have not yet placed bets in the new fundings happening in India right now. I am very optimistic about the education sector in the country but we haven’t had the opportunity to play in the market,” Varsha says.
She explains that while decisions were really unclear in March amid the lockdown, it is clearing up now. However, sectors which will represent headwinds of COVID-19 might not be able to get much investor attention.
“We are very focused investors; we focus on mobility and in the mobility canvas, and are continuing to invest in the new 5G related sectors, companies transforming the network, IoT, smart mobility, mobility-led enterprise services, and some vertical AI applications. So we have remained focused in these sectors in India,” she adds.
She adds that while some of the portfolio startups are surviving this crisis, several companies that were already having difficulties before the COVID-19 outbreak — especially in the retail sector — are facing a difficult time.
TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.