Deepak Jain, is the General Manager of IT Solutions for the Telecom Industry at Wipro Infotech. Mr Jain has risen through a series of post in his long career at Wipro. Among his many executive posts, he has served as Head of Sales for Service and as regional Head for Customer Service. Most recently, Mr Jain headed Wipro’s pioneer effort in the Infrastructure Management Business. Deepak graduated from the Delhi College of Engineering with a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics & Communications Engineering.
India is a world leader in information technology and business process outsourcing (IT & BPO) services. The government, recognising the role telecom plays in India’s economic development, issued licences to a number of new players to compete and offer telecom services. The resulting improvement in India’s telecommunications has been a great help to many industries. International FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) companies running centralised applications have shifted their data centres to India–to telcos offering data centres and reliable global connectivity.
India has been one of the world’s foremost contributors with respect to information technology and business process outsourcing–IT & BPO–services. For the last few years, India has been, and certainly will be for next few years, one of the foremost models for the telecom community around the globe. The primary reason for this has been the Indian Government’s initiatives to realise their goal of opening up the country’s telecom sector to private investment. The government has recognised and supported the role telecom infrastructure can play in the economic development of India. Some of the key points on the government’s agenda have been: √ To issue licences permitting a number of India’s telecom operators to compete and offer telecom services. This has driven growth - in excess of 100 per cent–of the wireless market and has made telecom services available at extremely competitive rates for India’s large population; √ To allow global companies to participate in India’s market by providing telecom infrastructure and related services to telecom service providers; √ To encourage the introduction of new technologies from the technology leaders of the world with a minimum lag time; √ To achieve a tele-density of 7 per 100, 15 months ahead of plan; √ To reach a tele-density of 15 by 2010 – currently, this also seems likely to be achieved ahead of plan; √ To build the size of the telecom Service industry–now US$ 12.25 billion, up from US$ 10.24 billion last year; √ To increase India’s undersea cable connectivity to other parts of the world–the Singtel / Bharti joint venture’s i2i cable links India to the world’s highest capacity system in Singapore. The telcos in India include global players such as Hutchison, Singtel (through its joint venture partner Bharti TeleVentures), India’s corporate giants such as Reliance Infocomm, Tata Group, and the incumbent Government operators BSNL and MTNL. All these telcos are working on a number of initiatives to offer a wide variety of telecom services to customers. The major telecom equipment suppliers, such as Ericsson, Motorola, Lucent, Nokia, Nortel, Tellabs, Cisco and Alcatel, have all bagged major contracts to supply parts of the country’s telecom infrastructure. Qualcomm, with its CDMA technology, has been growing rapidly in India’s marketplace. More than 75000km of fibre has been laid across the length and breadth of the country to support upgraded telecom services. The telcos currently offer a wide range of services in India including: √ Wireless connectivity based on GSM or CDMA; √ State of the art technology wireline networks; √ Broadband and Internet connectivity; √ Value added services such as location based services, push to talk, messaging, multilingual SMS and host of content based applications among others; √ MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) and VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol). India’s improved telecom infrastructure has been a great help to various industries: √ BPOs, business process outsourcers, provide call centre services and need very reliable communications, as there is a penalty for every dropped call; √ Offshore software development companies such as Wipro, TCS, Infosys, Satyam etc, provide software services for international clients; connectivity is crucial to their business; √ FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) companies running centralised applications have shifted their data centres to India–to telcos offering data centres and reliable global connectivity. The world’s leading OSS-BSS (Operations and Business Support Services) players–CSG, Convergys, Portal, Intec, Comptel, Metasolv and HP–are developing their latest solutions in the billing, mediation, interconnect, fraud and revenue assurance, service assurance, inventory management, and service provisioning etc. in India. India has many prepaid and post paid mobile subscribers. The telcos offer them a wide range of plans, innovative ideas, new applications and powerful devices to meet their needs. Nokia, Samsung, LG, Ericsson, and Motorola dominate the handset market. India’s major market segments have a variety of specific needs: √ Upper class Consumers: High-end, feature rich, handsets and data services (MMS etc.). In this segment, almost every household member over 12 years of age has a phone; √ Upper Middle Consumers: These need to be connected and want to be trendy; √ Lower Middle class households and entrepreneurs: This segment is largely prepaid; it includes small entrepreneurs who use it for work, e.g. Reliance Infocomm offered them call rates as low as 1 cent per minute and hopes this way to replace other means of communication, such as letters, with phones; √ Corporate segment: The segment needs to maintain contact with its key employees and uses closed-user-group services to reduce the costs of voice communication with its employees. Corporate users are big customers for Internet connectivity and data communications in general; √ Small and Medium Enterprises: This segment needs reduced cost mobile connectivity; it uses shared services and virtual private networks for data services instead of proprietary data networks. Overall, though, the most important single trend observed seems to be the replacement of landline with convenient, lower cost, mobile service. Mobile users now exceed wireline consumers in parts of India. In India, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is continually creating completely new solutions for enterprise customers that promise to be major revenue generators around the globe. Telecom service providers and IT services providers are working closely to address customer requirements that depend upon integrated ICT infrastructures. These include such critically important applications as enterprise data centres that connect and integrate a company’s offices worldwide as well as to its corporate disaster recovery centre. Solutions are needed that let businesses run non-stop, 24x7, with 99.9 per cent uptime. This requires IT and telco companies to work together to ensure client business application availability. The ICT sector is working to provide a new level of support for the corporate market’s key needs by connecting a large, mobile, workforce; and developing an ‘e-enabled’ organisation with automated workflow based processes for day to day functioning and regular feedback from workers in the field. IT companies and telcos are joining hands to meet these business needs for mobile, e-enabled, corporate applications, in particular: √ Email/Messaging–almost all telcos in India offer mobile email access; this is a very popular application; √ Office productivity - office applications such as MSWord, PowerPoint, and Excel are being offered as services; √ Sales force automation–to enable the sales force to regularly upload sales information for management review; √ Dealer/retailer outlet connectivity - large corporations in the FMCG and manufacturing sectors have extended value chains. The need to be connected with their support infrastructure and retailers is critical to their business. Mobile enabling of these applications has been a growth catalyst in these sectors. The telecom segment in India has had a major impact upon the day-to-day life of individuals and the way business is conducted by organisations, and has helped speed the country’s economic development. In years to come, India will be a place to watch for key innovations and as an example to other parts of globe.