Sterlite – OFC & Network Technology Play for the 5G Revolution

Vedanta group company Sterlite Technologies has over the years transformed from a pure play OFC (Optical Fiber Cable) manufacturer into a Network Solutions provider. The company now has 4 verticals – optical products (optical fibre, specialty cables), virtualised access products (programmable FTTx, virtualised RAN), network software (operating software and business software systems) and system integration services (network design and fibre rollout services). Sterlite’s manufacturing facility span across Asia, Europe and South America. It’s Software Innovation centers are all located in India.

Sterilte’s specialty cable capacity has gone up from 8m to 18m of cables and OFC capacity has scaled from 20m kms of fibre to 50m kms. In India you have seen the evolution from telecom to digital services after moving rapidly, from 2G/3G to now 4G. The industry will undergo further transformation, where apart from voice and data there is a new requirement of growing digital services. To provide the required digital services, Telcos will require huge OFC capacities which can scale to reach the population not connected to the internet and high quality networks to provide seamless data services with low latency.

Fiber connection of Telecom Towers is barely 30% in India compared to 70% Globally. Telcos in India relied on backhaul spectrum to carry traffic from Tower to local exchange from where fiber connectivity was available. This worked well during voice only wireless service. With Telecom becoming a Data Play, OFC rollout is inevitable. Further, not only does India continue to remain highly under-fiberised/FTTx, rollouts even for top telco Reliance Jio Infocomm is mere 1m fibre homes. Besides FTTx 5G services are also expected over the next few years and operators will have to fiberise ahead of 5G rollouts for high-speed broadband services, live streaming of sporting events, multi-player gaming, and virtual reality applications.

Sterlite has strengthened its offering in the cloud segment through the acquisition of IDS, also made a strategic investment in ASOCS, a company which is a pioneer in virtual radio access networks; and also signed up to collaborate with VMware to develop virtual network functions for 5G access solutions. Sterlite has also signed up with IIT Madras to partner in research and advancements in 5G. With Telcos investing in networks globally, over the next five years a significant amount of this will be on 5G, and provides Sterlite with a unique opportunity to grow its business in India and overseas.

Sterlite has proven its capability in US$500m multiyear project to design, execute, operate and maintain the Indian Navy Digital Network which involves high capacity private network backbone and end-to-end communication network linking multiple naval sites and Indian administered islands. Sterlite has also been instrumental in building hyper-scale data centres for one of the largest cloud providers. STL works closely with leading co-location and hyperscale providers like Microsoft and Oracle to set up their data centres. As per management company currently addresses US$30bn of the market and is confident of addressing the entire US$75bn addressable market globally by FY23.