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Andrew Wireless - Leveraging on key strengths

July 15, 2009
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The need to connect rural India has thrown open the gates for wireless technologies. The expected advent of 3G has also spurred the industry, which is now anticipating the next level of growth. Andrew Wireless, global manufacturer and supplier of communications equipment, services and systems, is betting big on this growth.

In 1997, Andrew Wireless Solutions, a US-based multinational company producing communications devices, set up operations in India through a small cable assembly facility in Goa spread over 1,000 square metres and with 10 employees.

Andrew has since progressively grown over the years to become the first player in the Indian telecom radio frequency (RF) cable and antenna segment. It makes both products at its manufacturing facility in India.

In January 2007, at an investment of about Rs 2.4 billion, a custom-built 19,400 square metre facility replaced the older one in Goa. Some of the products manufactured at the new plant include Andrew's HELIAX–® range of coaxial cables, connectors and accessories; Decibel–® base station antennas; and ValuLine–® and Advantage–® terrestrial microwave antennas. These are backed by in-country technical assistance and customer support.

"Local production in the Indian market provides our customers with significant freight and inventory cost savings, plus meaningful improvements in product delivery times and availability," says Ben Cardwell, vice-president, AsiaPacific sales and marketing, Andrew Corporation. "Andrew can manufacture and handle all logistics locally to ensure that products and site kits are delivered quickly to locations where customers require them," he explains.

The Indian unit also caters to the needs of neighbouring markets such as Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Andrew's customers include wireless operators, original equipment manufacturers, distributors, integrators, broadband providers, value-added resellers and installers. Reliance Communications, Vodafone Essar, Bharti Airtel, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, Idea Cellular, Nokia Siemens Networks and Motorola are some of Andrew's customers in India. The company currently has a total staff strength of about 1,200 in India, and a total of 5,000 employees in the AsiaPacific region.

With the growing needs of the Indian tower infrastructure market, where tens of thousands of cell sites are being built every year, the requirement of telecom antennas is huge.

An emerging trend in the Indian telecom market is the increasing uptake of high gain antennas. Andrew has made significant investments in terms of manufacturing the product in India. "India has a large rural area. Operators need high gain antennas to cover this area and to reduce the number of sites, thus reducing costs. High gain antennas have the ability to cover larger areas as compared to low gain and middle gain antennas," says Navin Vohra, country manager and director, South Asia operations, Andrew Wireless Solutions.

"We will put more effort into reaching consumers and open an antenna manufacturing factory in India with other antenna vendors to reduce costs in the future" Vohra adds.

Creating synergies
In June 2007, CommScope, an infrastructure solutions provider for communications networks, decided to acquire Andrew Corporation for approximately $2.65 billion. By December 2007, the transaction was complete and Andrew became a wholly owned subsidiary of CommScope.

Since the two companies complemented each other in terms of their product portfolios and market segments, the acquisition was well received by the industry. According to Cardwell, "Andrew and CommScope came together because of what they could add to each other –­ CommScope with the broadband and enterprise spaces, and Andrew with the wireless space. So together, we make a global leader in last mile access communications infrastructure. No matter where or how the user wants to access the network, whether it is in the office, at home or when he is mobile, it is our network that he is accessing."

Strengths and challenges
One of the company's key advantages is its product portfolio. As the largest provider of RF subsystem solutions, Andrew has operating leverage and global sourcing advantages over other suppliers, which translates into greater effectiveness in supporting customers.

There are challenges as well –­ escalating local demands, proper training, educating the market, decreasing ARPUs and site kitting logistics problems.

The company has been making efforts to overcome these challenges. Its new manufacturing facility was an effort in this direction. Backed by the over $2 billion CommScope, Andrew remains committed to the Indian market.

Company snapshot
Global presence: 15,000 employees serving more than 130 countries
Key clients in India: All major telecom operators and vendors
Product portfolio: Antenna, cable and cabinet products, wireless network solutions, structured cabling/connectivity for business enterprise networks, coaxial and fibre cables for HFC networks
Market position: Globally ranked number one in RF cable, microwave antennas and repeaters; and number two in base station antennas and base station components

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