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How a technology startup is looking to resolve call drops in India


While India is quickly adding mobile subscribers, and has already become the 2nd largest market in the world, the telecom infrastructure has not kept pace with the growth. Despite the advancement of technologies, call drops are still a huge issue. Call drops have become such a major problem, that it has required the regulatory body, TRAI to step in, and warn telecom operators to compensate users for dropped calls. On the other hand, telecom operators complain of insufficient spectrum allocated to them.

Technology startup, 5Barz India, believes that the solution lies in not upgrading networks and base stations, but in fixing in the last mile connectivity. States Samartha Raghava Nagabhushanam, CEO, 5BARz India, “The real innovation is in fixing the last mile connectivity when the signal is able to reach its full strength inside buildings or closed spaces without any modifications to the building infrastructure.”

The startup has developed technologies for resolving last mile cellular network connectivity challenges and improving signal strengths in India and emerging markets through its patented products.  The startup has built an extender that produces a superior 5 bar signal which indicates maximum signal strength for voice, data and video reception on cell phones and other cellular devices at homes and offices.  A network extender incorporates the patented technology into a small plug-and-play box, which removes the need for telecom companies to invest billions of dollars in network (tower) infrastructure or making structural modifications to existing building infrastructure (by creating permeable and less concrete walls), to ensure signals reach optimal strength inside closed spaces.

“By engineering a technology that enhances the cellular signal quality in low or poor coverage areas and delivering high quality signal for voice and data reception, we are addressing the most important aspect of providing superior connectivity experience in India,” says Nagabhushanam.

The market opportunity

According to IBEF, the Indian telecommunication services market is likely to grow by 10.3 per cent year-on-year to reach US$ 103.9 billion by 2020 being consistently higher than the Indian GDP growth rate. At the same time, the 3G subscriber base in India has grown at a CAGR of 144%.

According to a report by Deloitte, average data consumption per user in 2014 was 688 MB per user for 3G and 216 MB per user for 2G. Hence, on an average, a 3G user consumed about 3 times data payloads as compared to 2G counterparts.

“With more than 30% growth rate in smartphone usage and lower data tariffs, India has already started experiencing S-curve Samarthadata growth and this trend is expected to continue in the near future. Moreover 90% of mobile usage now happens indoors (as per Ericsson’s report on Indoor experience).  This data consumption explosion with high tele-density puts tremendous pressure on the already choked network/signal bandwidth consumption, especially in homes.  Considering India has over 200 million households and that our core business is solving poor performance and efficiency with connectivity solutions and products, India is the ideal market for an innovative technology solution that can solve the network connectivity challenges inside a home. This is as big an opportunity as it can get in this sector,” says Nagabhushanam.

The startup’s forte is last-mile connectivity for cellular and broadband networks. Currently, the top tier telecom companies are its clients. These firms are using 5Barz’s cellular solution and technology to help their customers or subscribers resolve the network issues that are faced by them.

Considering the opportunity, 5Barz India is estimating network extenders alone to cover cellular technology in 10,000 homes by the end of 2016 and 50,000 by the end of 2017, based on its estimates. This translates into a revenue of over USD 10 million. With its focus on resolving last mile connectivity, 5Barz India hopes to become a partner for technology players who are betting big on smart cities and smart homes.

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