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TCIL: Keeping pace with the evolving telecom ecosystem

March 10, 2015
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Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL) is a telecommunications engineering and consultancy company that operates under the administrative control of the Department of Telecommunications and the Ministry of Communications and IT. The company’s core competencies lie in switching and transmission systems, cellular services, rural telecommunications, and optical fibre-based backbone transmission systems. However, keeping in mind the changing telecom environment, the company has, in recent years, taken a keen interest in executing projects involving technologies such as fibre-to-the-home (FTTH), VoIP, IP TV and 3G. Further, it has diversified into civil construction and architectural services, which has brought significant revenues for the company.

During 2013-14, TCIL achieved a turnover of Rs 8.16 billion as compared to Rs 7.08 billion during 2012-13. Further, it reported a profit after tax of Rs 147 million during 2013-14 and was the only telecom PSU aside from Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited to post profits during the year.

Despite a positive operating turnover, the company continues to face a cash crunch on account of piled-up government projects which are being executed on a build-own-operate-transfer basis. Though the company has many international projects in the pipeline, these require immediate capital outflows for execution. In the past, the company’s efforts to exit Bharti Hexacom, its joint venture with Bharti Airtel, have not been fruitful. Talks regarding the exit plans have been on since 2010 but stake valuation has been a major point of contention. It is only recently, in August 2014, that TCIL mandated SBI Capital Markets to find a buyer for its 30 per cent stake in Bharti Hexacom.

On the operational front, TCIL is reaching new milestones. In July 2014, it received an order worth over Rs 14.48 billion for the Network for Spectrum (NFS) project being executed for the defence forces. The NFS project is divided into seven packages and involves the rolling out of 57,015 km of optic fibre cable (OFC) in various states. The scope of each package includes procurement, supply, trenching, laying, installation, testing and maintenance of OFC and accessories for the

construction of national long distance infrastructure and access routes on a turnkey basis. The cost includes an annual maintenance contract (AMC) for seven years for maintaining the network once it is laid. TCIL will be responsible for the execution of Package C which involves the roll-out of 9,568 km of OFC in Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. The company states that this is the biggest order it has received since its inception in 1978.

Further, the company has been awarded a project by the Department of Posts (DoP), to supply, install and maintain hardware and information and communication technology connectivity to the rural regions of the country. The scope of work involves supply, installation and AMC for five years for 130,000 main computing devices, along with solar panels and char-ging units; training of DoP staff and other software vendors; and setting up of helpdesks at different places across India.

Other projects

TCIL’s civil division, operating in around 12 states, has received substantial orders from various state government departments including works on a nomination basis and through national competitive bidding. Recently, it was awarded a project worth Rs 7 billion by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in Meghalaya. In addition, it was selected for providing project management consultancy services for the world headquarters building of the Rural Electrification Corporation in Gurgaon.

On the global front, the company has been involved in the modernisation and upgradation of networks across different geographies. During 2013-14, TCIL participated in many telecom and IT tenders in Kuwait with a total valuation of around Rs 13.34 billion. The company recently emerged as the lowest bidder for Kuwait Telecom’s landline expansion and maintenance tender and is reportedly close to signing the deal worth Rs 2 billion.

In Mauritius, the company completed a multi-order contract for civil engineering and cable works and the curative maintenance contract for underground cables during the year.

The company also implemented the Pan African e-Network Project, under which 48 countries have been connected with India for the provision of e-education and e-health facilities. Currently, more than 15,083 students from 38 countries are registered with five Indian universities under 23 programmes. The project, which was initially in the operations and management phase with a deadline of July 2014, has now been extended by the Ministry of External Affairs and the African Union Commission till July 2016.

The way forward

In order to keep pace with the evolving telecom ecosystem, TCIL is focusing on technologies and services such as wireless, FTTH, e-Networks, 4G, value-added services, e-governance, managed services and green telecom solutions. Going forward, it plans to offer high-end IT solutions such as criminal tracking systems and city surveillance systems along with e-waste management solutions in smart cities. Meanwhile, addressing its financial problems, particularly by exiting from Bharti Hexacom, will go a long way in strengthening the company’s finances.

 
 
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