Homegrown telecom equipment maker STL (formerly Sterlite Technologies) is in the process of setting up its own manufacturing facility in the US to serve the global market.
The facility in South Carolina, United States, will manufacture optical cables and become operational in the next quarter, Ankit Agarwal, STL’s managing director, told ETTelecom.
The company will spend Rs 500 crore this year to expand in India and build the new facility in the US. STL already has manufacturing facilities in India, China and Italy. “Our goal is to be among the top 3 global fiber optic manufacturers. We are also expanding our fiber capacity from the current 33 million km to 42 million km,” he said.
Currently, STL exports about 80% of its fiber optic cable and network products to global markets including the United States and Europe. STL’s market share in the US is 14 percent and in Europe more than 20 percent.
With the advent of 5G, fiber uptake in the country will increase by about three-fold to 60 million fiber kilometers (fkm) annually, driven by fiber uptake from towers and small cells, while fiber uptake from towers needs to increase from around 35% to 80% to to ensure the supply of high-quality 5G services. In addition, 5G requires cells that are up to four times smaller, which are transported back with fiber optics.
According to studies by STL, in the next 4-5 years India will have 300 million 5G users, 100 million fiber households and 600,000 villages will be connected by Bharatnet.
“There will be a convergence of massive network rollouts. With this in mind, we have designed and developed the latest technological solutions that will facilitate on-site execution. Our new solutions will eliminate some of the challenges in the field,” he said
To tap into the 5G market in India, the company launched three new products. Its new optical solution – the STL Cosmos – for Indian telecoms to fiberize small cells and towers to accelerate 5G network adoption. Solutions include 5G topology design for optical networks, Stellar Fiber for congested topologies, celesta-bonding ribbon cables, Opto-Bolt and Opto-Blaze optical plug-and-play devices, and automation-driven deployment.
We built 5G Cosmos to enable large-scale macro and small cell fiberization and unlock the full potential of 5G, he said.
STL also launched “Multiverse”, a multi-core fiber and cable for optical networks that can deliver high capacity per 5G cell site, provide connectivity for warehouse-scale computing, and support quantum communications.
To accelerate rural last-mile connectivity and village digitization, STL also announced the launch of its new Gram Galaxy solution. “Gram Galaxy will enable faster and highly scalable deployment of rural networks. We look forward to working with the government and telcos to implement this solution on-site,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out 5G services in India on October 1, which is expected to connect the next billion users and transform the entire Indian economy. Airtel has already rolled out 5G in 8 cities, while Jio plans to roll out its 5G services in select locations soon. With fixed wireless access applications imminent, 5G is expected to bring gigabit speed connections to small towns and villages once the network reaches the whole country.