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Rakesh Pundir, Head, Long Distance Operations, Idea Cellular

August 25, 2014
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Rakesh Pundir has over 20 years of experience across various infrastructure sectors. Currently, as vice-president at Idea Cellular, he is responsible for managing the long distance service business, including national long distance (NLD) operations, international long distance (ILD) operations, internet operations and optical fibre network operations.

According to Pundir, Idea Cellular has transformed itself from a pure play mobile operator to an integrated telecom company following the grant of licences for long distance services in 2006. For him, building the long distance service business from scratch for the company has been a memorable experience and he is satisfied that he was able to contribute in making Idea Cellular self-reliant as the company earlier used long distance services offered by Bharti Airtel and Tata Communications.

A key challenge, Pundir recalls, was to ensure that the business model was feasible as the company had to compete with the existing ILD, NLD and internet service providers since it was a late entrant into this segment. “However, being a late entrant, we were able to set up a state-of-the-art network in the four domains. We focused extensively on execution, which helped us to leapfrog the older NLD and ILD players and compete in the market,” he says.

Pundir sees rising smartphone penetration and increased internet adoption as the two biggest trends in the telecom sector at present, which are leading to a spurt in data traffic. To support this growth and meet customer demand, Idea is expanding its 3G network to new circles and towns in its existing circles of operation. The company has already launched 3G services in several areas in Punjab and is planning to commence these services in Delhi soon. Pundir is optimistic about the future of the voice service business. The two growth drivers for this business, he points out, are the addition of new subscribers and higher usage by bottom-of-the-pyramid customers. He admits that even though over-the-top applications like Skype and Viber are affecting ILD traffic, it is too early to assess their effect on domestic traffic.

Pundir believes in strategic planning. Although trust and empowerment are key aspects of management for him, he sometimes trusts people too easily and considers this his key weakness. Pundir has a bachelor’s degree in technology and a master’s in management from IIT Bombay. During his spare time, Pundir likes to engage in various sports with his friends: cycling, swimming, running and gymming.

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