NTT Ltd, one of the leading providers of ICT and data centre solutions in India, is set to invest over $2.5 billion in its data centre and undersea cable business in India. In an exclusive interaction with businessline, Abhijit Dubey, Global Chief Executive Officer, NTT Ltd, discussed the evolving tech regulations, NTT’s 5G ambitions and India’s market dynamics.
How do you appraise the global tech slowdown; how do you think it is will impact enterprise tech spends?
I don’t see what is happening worldwide as a slowdown. During the pandemic, we went through a period of hyper-growth, which is likely to come down and normalise again. All indications are that, globally, the economy is better than anticipated. IMF’s forecast last November suggests we have improved quite a bit.
Globally there is a move towards data sovereignity ... how do you navigate these regulations . If every country decides that it will not allow the free flow of data, do you see it as a disrupter or as an opportunity?
More of an opportunity, because of the nature of what we do. Because we have the unique advantage of providing infrastructure where data is stored. We have the the ability to not only host the data, but also manage the obligations. So for us, its a new opportunity, because at the end of the day, all the data has a security department and a compliance department. We only have to think of the infrastructure, so I see it as an opportunity. But leaving that aside, localisation of data country-by-country is not the best outcome. So I think regulators will be pragmatic about it actually.
You have spoken on how the 5G edge will become a huge growth component for NTT. How do you want regulation for private networks to shape upin India?
Selfishly for us, it will be better if governments allocate private spectrum directly to enterprises. From a performance standpoint as well as from a security standpoint, it would be much better if private spectrum is directly allocated to us, as opposed to taking a slice of the operator spectrum, which is like a firewall ... it is not as secure.
While you are in the data centre and IT services space in India, do you see private 5G or ORAN to be a growth opportunity?
I see Private 5G as an opportunity here, ORAN at the end of the day... Well, of course, NTT in Japan is innovating on ORAN. For NTT as a service provider, telcos are a major customer for us in that segment obviously. But we will see at the end of the day.
So NTT is spread out over many geographies ... where does India feature in the scheme of things?
India is a strategically important company for the NTT group. We have around 47,000 employees in India -- the second largest employment base for NTT outside Japan. For NTT’s two businesses, namely IT services and data centres; India is already number 3 in terms of services. For data centres, we are the number one data centre provider for India. If you take the Japan business out, India is the eighth largest company in terms of revenue for us.
How do you rate competitiveness in the Indian data centre market? Even though you are the leading data centre provider, there is interest from other entities, namely Microsoft, Adani, and Hiranandani. How does the Indian market dynamics compare to the rest of the world?
It is certainly competitive, but the competitiveness does not impact margins in the short-term. In the long-term, there will be consolidation. There is competitiveness in every market globally, it is a hyper-local dynamic right? It is different for every metro. I think, just because we are so global, and we have scale right. We do have leverage in procurement with our suppliers, right? We have relationships with global customers and hyper-scalers, which is to our advantage.