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British Telecom India - Betting on expanding product portfolio and global coverage

July 15, 2009
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Despite its international presence and a dominant position in the UK –­ one of the world's largest telecom markets –­ British Telecom (BT) has not remained immune to the financial crisis. After reporting losses of –£977 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2009, BT announced job cuts for 15,000 employees, representing 10 per cent of its workforce.

While its parent company is facing turbulent times, BT India is looking at the crisis as an opportunity and aiming to consolidate its presence in the country. According to Arun Seth, chairman, BT India, telecommunications can be used as a tool to increase efficiencies and make optimal use of the available resources. BT, with products such as audio, video and web conferencing, can help its customers trim overhead costs and ensure business continuity. According to Seth, using the services of BT to manage the entire network can provide significant cost savings to a company as compared to using the services of multiple service providers.

Operating in India since 1987, BT kept a relatively low profile for the first two decades. However, things changed in the year 2007 when the company was granted national long distance as well as international long distance telephony licences by the government.

This enabled BT India to offer its corporate customers virtual private network (VPN)-based services using technologies such as IP-enabled multi-protocol label switching (IP MPLS) and asynchronous transfer mode (ATM). The company could also offer customers access to BT-managed networks spread across the AsiaPacific, Europe and North America.

Over the past two years, BT has increased its presence in the country. It currently has offices in a number of cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata. Its focus is on delivering global services including voice, customer relationship management (CRM), ATM communications, frame relay and MPLS to multisite corporate customers in a number of sectors. Its key clients include Infosys, Wipro, Tech Mahindra (in which BT has 31 per cent stake), Star TV, NDTV, Standard Chartered Bank, HCL and Tata Consultancy Services.

Recent initiatives
The past few months have been busy for the company. BT India recently signed a five-year, $1 billion voice outsourcing contract with Tata Communications, under which the former's entire international voice traffic will be handled by Tata Communications. The contract will allow BT and Tata Communications to benefit from their respective global networks and cost structures. BT will also have access to Tata Communications' routing capabilities and online management systems. This will provide the company with economies of scale, which will improve its competitiveness in the international market.

BT India and the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) –­ an organisation established by the Ministry of IT and Communications –­ have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to increase the overall security of the computing environment in the country. The scope of the MoU includes technical cooperation and information exchange, knowledge sharing, emergency response and coordination, executive information exchange, training as well as customer education and outreach. Under the deal, BT will extend its expertise in information infrastructure to enable organisations across India to overcome various security threats.

BT India has also announced its plans to launch a new virtual data centre service soon. The service is expected to help large companies to optimise their data storage costs, a step that will be crucial in the current business environment.

In addition, BT has announced that it will invest –£375,000 to set up its AsiaPacific security operations centre in India. The facility will provide security device management services and will employ over 30 highly skilled specialists.

In November 2008, BT India inked a partnership with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). According to the agreement, BT gained access to BSNL's panIndian broadband network and seamless access services. BSNL, at the same time, benefited from BT's global MPLS network and managed service expertise covering network integration, managed security, managed data centres, hosted CRM/ contact centres and remote infrastructure management. The deal has enabled the companies to provide a full range of managed telecom services including basic, leased line, local lead, MPLS VPN, internet, mobile and broadband.

Going forward, BT feels that India will remain a key market. The communications major has formulated big growth plans for the country, and aims to increase its revenues from India to $250 million in 2009. BT India's comprehensive portfolio of services customised for the Indian market and its extensive network are amongst its key strengths, and the company hopes to leverage these advantages to drive future growth.

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