The India Mobile Congress 2017 kicked-off with a grand opening ceremony at New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan yesterday. Hon’ble Minister Mr. Manoj Sinha, Ministry of Communication, Department of Telecommunications, inaugurated the event as Chief Guest.

India’s first ever mobile, internet and technology event is jointly organized by COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India), an association of mobile service providers in India and K AND D Communication Ltd., an Ahmedabad based event management company.

The event resembling the World Mobile Congress witnessed the presence of some big players from mobile and telecom industry. The partner companies of the event include Reliance Jio, Qualcomm, BSNL, IBM, Nokia, Airtel, Huawei, MediaTek, Vodafone, Idea, and ZTE to name a few. Notably, Google is the principal partner of the three days long event.

Apart from these industry leaders, the IMC 2017 was also graced by the presence of some senior dignitaries from the Government. It included the Guest of Honour Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Hon’ble Minister of Electronics & Information Technology and Law & Justice, Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, and Smt. Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary (T) & Chairperson, Telecom Commission, Department of Telecommunications.

Moreover, the inauguration ceremony was dignified with the presence of some industry leaders including Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder & Chairman, Bharti Airtel, Mr. Mukesh Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Industries Limited, Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group, and Mr. Sunil Sood, CEO Vodafone India along with other industry stalwarts.

Who said what?

Speaking at the inauguration, Mr. Manoj Sinha, Hon’ble Minister of Communication said,

“This platform is a much-awaited event in the country which has over a billion subscribers and has seen tremendous growth in given number of internet users and a large of IT & Telecom companies operating and investing in India. Indian Mobile Congress will boost investment in India, launch new products, promote technology for social good and encourage innovation with a boost to startups to realize the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of fully connected Digital India.”

Rajan S Mathews, Director General, COAI said,

“The India Mobile Congress will be the marquee event of the country. We are sure that the deliberations will inform global policy and over the years, all stakeholders will look forward to this event for launches and releases of new technologies. Officials and senior decision makers from both the Government as well as the industry are present and tech companies will be displaying the best that this ecosystem has to offer.”

The event includes a conclave, an exhibition, and an awards ceremony, and also has thematic pavilions and innovation zones. The venue spreads across 15,000 square meters, featuring 300 exhibitors from ICT, the Government sector, Embassies, and other States as well. The IMC 2017 is expected to engage more than 2,000 delegates from India and other countries along with 1,50,000 visitors.

IMC 2017 Day 1 Major Highlights

Apart from hosting an event which replicates the World Mobile Congress, COAI is admired for bringing country’s top telecom operators including Bharti Airtel, the new entrant Reliance Jio, Vodafone, and Idea together at a dais.

Interestingly, the presence of the two arch-rivals- Airtel and Reliance Jio together on stage was the major highlight of the inauguration ceremony. However, both the telecom giants showed a friendly gesture towards each other during the opening ceremony.

Reliance Jio’s Mukesh Ambani and Bharti Airtel’s Sunil Mittal at the IMC 2017

First talking about Airtel, the company plans to invest Rs 18,000 to Rs. 20,000 crore this year in the country. Sunil Mittal also confirmed about its MIMO technology that is being deployed around the country. “The industry is keeping a track of 5G developments globally for the benefit of society, ‘’ Mittal said.

Interestingly, he also hinted towards joining hands with Reliance Jio, its biggest competitor in the country. “We’ll build something for the future together with Mukesh,” he added, hinting possible collaboration with the Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio Infocomm.

Further, India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani described each other as friends and promised to prorogate growth of the telecom industry together. “We must break silos and forge partnerships. No corporate, nor the government, can do it alone. Together, we can achieve the unimaginable,” Ambani said.

Reliance Jio‘s chairman also emphasized on taking advantage of data and called it the fourth industrial revolution. “Data is the new oil, India does not need to import it. We have it in abundance. Data is the oxygen of the Indian economy, we cannot deprive Indians of it,” he added.

5G Technology

It seemed like 5G was the core concept of the event. Most of the OEMs and telecom operators hinted towards the futuristic technology. Apart from Airtel which has already started deploying the 5G-ready technology many others stressed on the same.

Firstly, Chinese telecom gear vendor ZTE shows that it has kicked off 5G-related activities with Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Jio. A company executive said that the ZTE is currently in talks with Indian telecom operators on 5G backhaul, which will lay the foundation for future 5G networks in India. “Indian telecom operators must have a 5G roadmap. They need to be ready. We expect to have new partnerships around 5G backhaul soon in India,” he said.

Another Chinese giant Huawei also highlighted its efforts in commercial roll-out of the 5G network in the country. “The 5G era is approaching, and we are confident that 5G deployment in India will happen in line with the global timeline,” said Jay Chen, CEO, Huawei India. It is to be noted that Huawei, together with Airtel, has launched India’s first massive multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) technology implementations.

Next, in the row is the American semiconductor giant Qualcomm, whose main theme was also 5G technology. “5G is a unifying connectivity platform for innovation. We are moving forward from connecting people to connecting everything,” Alex Rogers, EVP, and President Qualcomm said.

New launches

If we talk about semiconductor manufacturers, another industry player MediaTek also marked its notable presence at the event. The Taiwanese company launched its MT6739 SoC designed for mid-range to entry-level 4G smartphones. The high-speed quad-core processor is built for the fast-growing 4G VoLTE market.

Our latest offering in India allows OEMs and ODMs to create 4G-entry smartphones that deliver premium features that provide high-end value at affordable prices,” said Dr. Finbarr Moynihan, General Manager, International Corporate Sales, MediaTek.

Apart from that, the South Korean giant LG Electronics showcased a unique smartphone at the event, featuring a new mosquito away technology. The company says that its latest smartphone K7i uses ultrasonic sound waves to keep mosquitoes away. The LG K7i smartphone has been priced at Rs. 7,990 and will be soon available at offline stores.

Vodafone India also marked its attendance with an offbeat announcement. The British telecom operator Vodafone has partnered with home-grown Videocon Wallcam to provide mobile phone-based surveillance camera using 3G or 4G connection.

Vodafone Videocon launching CCTV cameras

We are delighted to partner with Videocon Wallcam to introduce India’s first 4G enabled and bundled CCTV solution. We have been partnering with enterprise for IoT (Internet of Things) solutions but this is also our first partnership for an IoT product in a consumer retail segment,” said Sunil Sood MD and CEO Vodafone India.

Alongside all these highlights, there were stalls by the internet and social media giants-Google and Facebook. Google is, in fact, the principal partner of the event as mentioned earlier.

Mr. Manoj Sinha at Google’s stall

Rajan Anandan, Google vice president for Southeast Asia and India said at the inauguration, “Today, India is the only country where a bank account can be opened in minutes. At Google, we believe that the biggest companies in the world are built by addressing the biggest problems faced by people.”

IMC 2017 is a three-day event that will have 21 sessions based on themes like ‘Digital India’, ‘Internet Governance’, ‘Smart Network: The future of networking’, ‘Women in Tech’, ‘Emerging Technologies in a 5G Future’, and ‘Digital Infrastructure towards the Digital Economy’ among many others.