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Views of Naveen Chopra, Director, Vodafone Business Services

November 12, 2013
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Vodafone India, the country’s second largest mobile operator, has been increasing its focus on the enterprise segment to grow its revenues. Naveen Chopra, director, Vodafone Business Services, talks about the company’s strategies and solutions for tapping this segment…

How have the communication needs of enterprises changed over time?

Information technology (IT) has emerged from being a competitive differentiator in the 1990s to a basic requirement in the current decade. As companies invest in IT, it is important to ensure seamless connectivity among various business locations from an overall communications perspective. Today, for instance, when customers go to a bank, they are not prepared to hear that its systems are down. They demand 100 per cent uptime. Therefore, an MPLS virtual private network enabling total communications is required for connecting banks to a central application on a server hosted in a data centre.

This is just one scenario of total communications at play. Another instance is providing unified communications solutions that enable employees to collaborate with each other via audio, video, web or e-mail – all through a common user interface.

Such requirements have made it necessary for enterprises to look out for service providers who can provide end-to-end management solutions. These solutions play a key role in building connectivity among widespread offices and assist businesses in monitoring operations.

What are the key challenges and opportunities in the enterprise segment in India?

Several MNCs are setting up businesses in India. Similarly, Indian enterprises are expanding their businesses in the domestic market as well as overseas. Therefore, the need for total communications in general and connectivity in particular is extremely high, presenting significant opportunities for telecom operators, system integrators and other players in this space.

The country’s vast geography and lack of connectivity pose a key challenge in providing fibre in the last mile. However, with technology improvements, enterprises are now more open to using radio frequency technology for their connectivity requirements. This also ensures faster deployments apart from cost savings.

Further, the small and medium enterprise (SME) segment, which is still not aware of the benefits of communication technologies, has untapped potential. Also, it is difficult for an SME to invest upfront in technology and applications. This is where telecom operators can help by deploying cloud-based SaaS for SMEs in a cost-effective manner through a pay-as-you-go/opex model instead of capex. Going forward, it will be critical for operators to develop a robust and scalable support model to ensure that SMEs reap the benefits of communication services.

What scope do telecom companies see in the wireline space?

Overall, there is huge scope for growth as well as consistent demand for wireline services in the Indian market. Enterprises require high bandwidth connectivity, which cannot be catered to through mobility solutions as service level guarantees are provided only for wireline networks. Wireline services can help transform businesses and enable enterprises to contribute a large share to the country’s GDP. The enterprise data market is growing rapidly and, contrary to expectations, the wireline voice segment has witnessed minimal decline.

What is the size of the wireline data and voice market in India? What are Vodafone’s targets in terms of market share or revenue from the fixed line segment in India?

As per estimates by Frost and Sullivan, the enterprise data market is valued at about Rs 80 billion per annum and is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 10 per cent while the fixed voice market is valued at about Rs 75 billion per annum with a decimal point year-on-year decrease.

With its foray into the wireline space, Vodafone is moving beyond mobility solutions to offer total communications solutions. We are expecting that this move will contribute over 20 per cent to our enterprise revenues in the next five years.

What does the company’s current wireline infrastructure consist of? How does the company respond to rapidly changing business needs?

Vodafone’s wireline services are backed by robust network infrastructure, comprising 135,000 km of fibre backbone, over 350 points of presence across 130 cities and a network operations centre (NOC) for 24x7 performance management. The NOC provides services such as preventive maintenance, proactive fault management and quick trouble-shooting in the event of downtime. The company’s key wireline services include:

MPLS VPN: The network is used to connect multiple offices seamlessly and securely in a cost effective manner over Vodafone’s MPLS network cloud infrastructure.

Internet leased lines: Vodafone’s internet leased lines provide guaranteed internet services to enterprises with bandwidths ranging from 64 kbps to 1 Gbps.

Leased circuits: This service provides connectivity among two or more offices in India or abroad enabling data transfer between locations.

Office Wireline Voice (E1-DID): The Office Wireline Voice service can be used to connect employee extensions to direct lines. Each E1 link can support simultaneous usage of 30 phone lines at a given time.



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