Domestic Public Cloud Service Opportunity
Communication Service Providers (CSPs) the world over, including telecommunications operators (telcos) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs), are increasingly adopting cloud infrastructure to host their voice and data operations. The cloud offers them benefits in terms of cost, speed, agility, control, collaboration, and innovation. Besides voice and data services, CSPs are also eyeing the digital services market: over-the-top (OTT) entertainment, telemedicine, mobile payments, shopping, maps, ticketing, restaurant bookings, etc. But all this is still within the highly mature, highly competitive ecosystem of the voice and data industry. There is a better opportunity lying in wait for them in the domestic public cloud business, which is just about taking off in the middle- and low-income economies.
Communication Services – An Aggressive Space
The telecoms industry has reached a state of maturity where operators are selling voice and data as commodities now. Because of this commodification, consumers have become extremely price sensitive: they pick a carrier, increase or decrease their consumption, and even port their carrier, based on the pricing of services. The desire for dominance in a fast-growing market has led to intense price wars among operators. Competition is pushing telcos to bundle additional sops and freebies like OTT subscriptions, antivirus software, phone protection plans, free data and text messages, etc. in their tariff plans.
Thus, the CSPs face a market that is cut-throat in terms of both features and pricing. Their margins are constantly under pressure, and the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) has frequently shown a drop. Even in a developing market like India, the telecoms market has hit a high level of maturity where operators are diving into one another’s subscriber base.
Public Cloud Services – An Emerging Space
The public cloud business is still in its nascent stages in the Global South. The National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) has reported that at 1.6% of GDP, India’s IT spend is half of the global average. India’s cloud adoption at 6.0% is almost a quarter behind the global average (7.9%) and nearly half that of the US and UK (11.4%). Global trends show that IT spends and cloud adoption are in the initial stage of development in India. Moreover, the cloud infrastructure market in India is projected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 23.61% and reach INR 196.46 billion by 2024. At the same time, the global public cloud market is expected to hit USD 488.5 billion by 2026.
When compared to the primary voice and data business, the public cloud business offers better growth prospects in a less encumbered market.
Domestic Public Cloud – Advantages+
To this mix of business environmental factors, let’s add the benefits that a domestic public cloud offers over global ones. Geographical location has become a key differentiator in the public cloud business. By being closer to their customers, domestic public cloud service providers can offer better latency, distributed cloud, cutting-edge tech stacks, local currency billing, better customisations, and compliance with local data residency laws. These benefits stack up as powerful competitive advantages for enterprises who choose to go with domestic public clouds.
Compared to communication services, the domestic public cloud service business is clearly a more lucrative proposition in the medium to long term. Communication Service Providers have a massive strategic advantage over others in offering and monetising a cloud business. They already own the real estate, the communication networks, and both B2B and B2C linkages that they can leverage. But unless telcos and ISPs move fast and establish market leadership quickly, they may lose space to other entrants who will catch up to them. To do that, they will need a reliable partner with strong area expertise who can help set up an end-to-end public cloud business.