Optical and digital solutions company Sterlite Technologies is seeing a strong commitment and demand for fibre, as customers across markets continue to prioritise network build-outs, including in India, where massive 5G infrastructure deployments are taking place.

Sterlite Tech Managing Director Ankit Agarwal said the company is "quite positive" about the India market prospects, given the rapid pace of fiberisation, and expectation of 5G scaling up from 50 million users to 250 million users in the coming years.

"We are excited with the progress we are making, and are positive about mid-to-longer-term opportunities for our sector. In our conversation with customers that commitment remains in terms of their network plans," Agarwal told PTI.

At a macro level, STL continues to see strong focus from customers, largely telcos, internet service providers and data centres players.

"They continue to have strong commitment to 5G, Fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and enterprises," he said.

5G in India

In India too, companies are aggressively going after 5G roll outs. "Our own view is that 5G in India will go from 50 million users to 250 million users in the next couple of years. Rapid growth of 5G is expected," Agarwal observed.

There is also a large headroom to scale up fiber services from home and enterprise perspective, as well.

"From telcos' side, we do not see any major degrowth in spending. Fibre, in particular, is becoming a strategic asset for telecom operators," he said.

At the same time, robust focus from the government to invest in building fibre networks is also driving demand. "The challenges we are seeing globally is a shortage of trained manpower to deploy the networks fast enough," he said.

Global market

Agarwal said STL is quite positive about India market prospects but was quick to add that the US and Europe will also continue to grow for the company.

"So we are definitely quite positive about the growing Indian market but this is not vis-a-vis the US and Europe.

"The US and Europe will also continue to grow as those are large markets, nearly 3-4 times India market, in size," he said, adding that it is important for STL to have a balance of all the geographies in its portfolio.

"Even in the current year we have a capex plan of ₹350 crore to ₹400 crore, specifically on optical fibre cable and interconnect. And so we remain positive to grow the business," he said.

In H1 FY24, though, there seems to be some excess inventory in the US, he pointed out. "So to that extent for H1 as execution continues and inventory gets reduced, then for STL we will see further larger demand in H2. This is specific to the US market," Agarwal said, adding that the company is watching the market closely.

The company is also engaged in co-development of products with customers especially in Europe and US, and now increasingly in India.

"Some of the innovations we have done recently. We have launched the world's smallest fibre optics, at 180 micron, which makes fibre and cable smaller. Typically, a fibre is around 240 micron. We have a strong research and development team, and one of the reasons for our growth and confidence is our focus on these new products," he said.

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