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Tech exec: India holds promise for Internet of Things

India's next big growth wave will be driven by developments in the Internet of Things (IoT) space, according to Jürgen Hase, CEO of IoT company Unlimit, a joint venture between India-based Reliance Communications Ltd. and the Cisco Jasper connectivity management platform.

Speaking Jan. 23 at the IoT Tech Expo in London, Hase said the Indian population's strong demand for vital services, along with state initiatives in the digital sector, makes India a key IoT hotbed in the years to come.

What started with a global consumer craze in wearable fitness devices, smart home technology and connected cars, IoT is now paving the way for large-scale industrial activity in the country's utilities, manufacturing and transportation sectors.

Hase said the southeast Asian country has made huge strides in harnessing IoT technology to drive development, and is ushering in a wave of state initiatives in areas such as smart cities, waste and water management, as well as in traffic management.

Hase's claims are backed up by a joint study from Deloitte and the Indian trade body National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM). They expect that India's IoT market will be worth $15 billion with 2.7 billion connected units by 2020, up from $5.6 billion and 200 million units in 2016.

Lured by the strong potential of India's IoT scene, technology giants such as Cisco, Microsoft Corp. and Nokia Corp. are also making huge inroads into the sector.

Aside from launching Unlimit with Reliance, Cisco is working with the Indian government on digital classrooms and smart city initiatives. Meanwhile, in 2015, Nokia announced it would set up one out of five 5G IoT labs globally in the Indian town of Bengaluru as the former smartphone pioneer primes itself for the IoT wave.

All of this, Hase noted, stands to benefit the India's growing urban population.

"It's all about scale," Hase said, adding that around 80 million people in India, or roughly 6.4% of the country's 1.25 billion-strong population, have no access to running water, with a further 300 million said to have no access to electricity.