India Mobile Congress(IMC) 2018 – an event which provided a peep into the exciting future in the rapidly evolving area of digital communications – ended, with participants and organisers promising to be back next year. This year’s event, with its’ theme of “New Digital Horizons – Connect. Create. Innovate.”, established the IMC as a regular platform for global and local stakeholders in the sector to collaborate in the cause of exploring opportunities and leveraging possibilities, with a specific focus on South and South-East Asia.
Addressing members of the press and media on the last day of IMC 2018, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Communications, Mr. Manoj Sinha said – “Having participated in the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona earlier this year, I can assure you that IMC 2018 was no less – in terms of substance, scale, and style. The IMC is just a two-year-old baby, and it has already acquired a personality of its’ own. It will now be an important annual event on everyone’s calendar.”
The mega 3-day event was inaugurated on October 25 by Mr. Manoj Sinha, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Communications, in the august presence of Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Minister for Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation; Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Electronics & Information Technology and Law & Justice, and Mr.Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing & Urban Affairs. Also gracing the inaugural function were captains of the telecom industry – Mr. Mukesh Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Industries; Shri Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group; and Shri Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Enterprises.
The IMC 2018 conference and exhibition was held over a total area of more than 50,000 square metres, with more than 5,000 delegates in attendance. Delegations from 20 countries participated in the event, which saw more than 300 companies showcasing their latest and best technologies, products, services, and applications. According to the organisers, more than 50,000 curious visitors attended the various sessions and viewed the futuristic solutions on display at the exhibition stalls.
An extremely relevant addition at this edition of the IMC was the presence of high-level ministerial delegations from several BIMSTEC and ASEAN countries. Hon’ble Ministers from the European Commission, Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal, and Lao PDR led their respective delegations and participated in plenary sessions which were focused on the specific needs, challenges, and opportunities applicable to member countries of these regional forums. The presence of the high-level delegations also offered them an opportunity for bilateral meetings with their Indian counterparts, where topics of mutual interest were discussed, and possibilities of strengthening cooperation were explored.
Among the companies whose participation contributed to the success of IMC 2018 were global and local giants such as Samsung, Intel, Ericsson, Nokia, Cisco, NEC, Accenture, KPMG, E&Y, Facebook, Huawei, Sterlite, Vodafone Idea, Reliance Jio, Airtel, and BSNL. Several exhibition stalls set up by these companies attracted crowds of interested visitors, while leaders from the companies enriched the discourse through their participation in the various plenary sessions. The exhibition stalls covered a variety of interesting possibilities, hinged around 5G, Internet of Things, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Smart City Solutions, Fintech, Health-Tech, Autonomous Cars, and Cyber Security, amongst others.
An interesting feature of this edition of the IMC was the focused attention on the critical Start-ups ecosystem. More than 200 start-ups marked their presence at the event, with their booths displaying ideas and innovations which seek to leverage the potential of digital communications to create and meet ever-changing consumer needs – in areas such as artificial intelligence, integrated services, healthcare, pharma, security, safety, food, sports, social networking, travel, education, and disaster management, among others. As Shri Manoj Sinha, while inaugurating the simultaneous release of 250 start-up applications at the IMC 2018 today, said – “The sheer volume and quality of what I see here is amazing. Who knows, we may right now be releasing the WhatsApp and Google Maps of tomorrow!”
The event was also noteworthy for some very remarkable announcements which clearly established the direction of the Indian digital communications industry over the next several years. The Government of India announced the commitment of the industry to rollout One Million WiFiHotspots in the Country by December 2019. The National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP) 2018 was also unveiled at the event. NFAP 2018 frees up a total of 605 MHz spectrum in the 5-GHz band for Wi-Fi services. Several spectrum bands for Short Range Devices and Ultra WideBand Devices have been made license exempt, benefitting the public as well as industry. As Smt.Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary (Telecom) and Chairman, Telecom Commission, Government of India said – “These initiatives provide an excellent launchpad for achieving the goals such as Broadband for All, which are outlined in our recently released National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) 2018.”
In his concluding remarks, the Minister added – “Our Government, under the leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, remains committed to make the digital communications sector a core part of our national infrastructure. The initiatives and reforms we have announced here will provide a strong boost to employment generation and digital economic activity – especially in the rural and semi-rural areas of the country. We are determined to succeed in our endeavours, in partnership with industry, academia, regulators, and startups.”
Shri Sinha thanked the Department of Telecommunications and the Cellular Operators Association of India for designing and successfully organising a best-in-class event.