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The rapid acceleration towards 5G network mobilisation is pushing service providers all over the Asia Pacific region to find newer and more progressive modes of connectivity and seamless integration across multiple sectors.

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Telecom Review Asia Pacific secured an interview with CISCO President of Service Provider Business in APJC, Sanjay Kaul to give us an insight on how CISCO will be able to deliver an unparalleled digital experience, concentrating actively on transforming the network ecosystem and preparing service providers in the region for the future of 5G.

How would you define the current 5G landscape for the Asia Pacific and Japan region?

First of all proud to see APJC region is in lead here with Korea already launched, Japan and Australia concluding initial pilots and ready to go full force in FY 20, China accelerating and aiming to have 70M subscriber by end of 2020. 5G licenses are being issues in Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines etc. Rest of the Service providers across Asia Pacific are transforming their network architectures to be ready for 5G. Overall great momentum. 

Considering that the region is made up of countries with diverse socio-economic backgrounds, how can CISCO address the different demands or needs of each market?

You have to look at what the end game is. The end game is that these networks need to be flat, automated and intelligent. They need to have dis-integrated and open architectures so that you can capture the data when it gets produced. The network architecture must zero touch and secure.

If that is the end game then as I said, we will see advanced markets like Japan, South Korea and Australia starting to do this much faster than others. Developing part of Asia Pacific still lacks fiberization, hence for them fiberization, improving mobile backhaul and transport networks become the biggest stumbling block and hence priority to fix.

Developed countries on the other hand will step up the game on cloud architectures and virtualization of their network functions to ensure lower TCO / cost per bit and better customer experience

Investments have increased tremendously in the past few years in terms of 5G deployment and expansion, how do you think CISCO will approach this in order to give their customers unrivalled services and solutions?

We are addressing this on three fronts. Make money, Save money and create zero touch-zero trust network architectures. The first one is about understanding how the telco is going to make money, something we call the monetisation aspect. Second is about using technology advancements and innovative business models to make networks intuitive, intelligent, Secure, and most of all efficient. Third one is about embedding automation and security hand in hand into every aspect of network down to end point.

Another important aspect for service provider is to digitise themselves first, because you cannot be in the business of selling champagne when you do not know what it tastes like. Cisco can bringing in all the enterprise-related technologies to them; so we can make them intuitive within. 5G for service providers is about evolving from being a communication service provider to be a digital value player. Enterprises is where the real monetization opportunity lies. 5G brings ability for Service providers to offer their network as a platform to enterprizes and hence creates huge value propositions.

The last piece is what we call the service provider as a channel or partner to us.  We are not saying that we will only sell it to you and make you digitised, but we will also go with you to the market and help you monetise. So Cisco truly is in a unique position because we have a lot of experience working with enterprises, all verticals, so we know what they want and we are trying to marry the two. That is really the biggest incentive for Service Providers to partner with us. And together we will create digital value proposition for enterprizes.  

Do you have any break though plans for the region in the year 2020?

We have opened an innovation centre in Singapore which we launched a few months ago. We are creating different Centres of Excellences for %G, automation, MSME, Cloud etc. in different pockets of the region.  In fact we did a lot of work in automation with Reliance Jio and Bharti in India, cloud native in Japan, we are also putting a 5G Centre of Excellence in South Korea, so we are really looking at each country and what their skill base is and we are using that strength and building something that is relevant for 5G businesses. A lot of investments, innovation and breakthroughs which will help them create new revenues and simultaneously help CISCO generate net new revenues.

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