Showing posts with label India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label India. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

NEC to build subsea cable to India's Andaman & Nicobar islands

India's Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has selected NEC to design, engineer, supply, install, test and implement an optical submarine cable system connecting Chennai and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands (A&N Islands).

NEC said the new contract is for a system that includes a segment with repeaters from Chennai to Port Blair and seven segments without repeaters between the islands of Havelock, Little Andaman (Hutbay), Car Nicobar, Kamorta, the Great Nicobar Islands, Long Island and Rangat. The cable will span approximately 2,300km and will carry 100G wavelengths.

"BSNL is pleased to select NEC for implementing this prestigious project. We trust NEC for the technological edge they hold in the domain and their commitment to adherence of timelines to ensure successful completion of the project. This project will enable much needed high capacity connectivity with the Andaman Islands and usher a new era of development for the region," said Mr. Anupam Shrivastava, Chairman and Managing Director BSNL.

"Connecting the A&N Islands to the Indian subcontinent with an optical submarine cable has been a long-time aspiration. NEC is extremely proud of being chosen by BSNL to serve these islands with its cutting edge submarine cable solution, which promises to bring the A&N Islands much closer to the world," said Toru Kawauchi, General Manager, Submarine Network Division in NEC. "Together with NECTI, our local Indian affiliate, we intend to fully capitalize on our regional expertise and to ensure the successful completion of this project.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Ericsson opens 5G Lab at the Indian Institute of Technology (Delhi)

Ericsson has established a Centre of Excellence (CoE) and Innovation Lab for 5G at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi.

In addition, Ericsson conducted India’s first 5G over the air beam tracking demonstration on 3.5GHz spectrum using a pre-commercial end-to-end system including 5G-NR, VRAN and VCORE. The demonstration includes 3GPP 5G NR Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology with adaptive beamforming and beam tracking techniques.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Manoj Sinha, Minister of State for Communications (I/C) and Minister of State for Railways, said: “I would like to congratulate Ericsson for taking the lead in terms of setting up the first 5G Center of Excellence and Innovation Lab in the country. The 5G Center of Excellence supports the Government’s plans to foster a robust and vibrant 5G ecosystem in India. We want India to be an active participant in the design, development and manufacture of 5G-based technologies, products and apps.”

Prof. V. Ramgopal Rao, Director, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi stated, “We at IIT Delhi are committed to collaborating with industry and Government to develop technologies that enable connectivity for millions. We take pride in hosting the Ericsson Center of Excellence and Innovation Lab, thereby playing a pivotal role for the industry and academia to come together, test out new technologies and explore the full potential of 5G.”

Thursday, June 28, 2018

India's Sify picks Ciena

Chennai-based Sify Technologies Limited has selected Ciena’s converged packet optical for its backbone.

Sify's network reaches more than 1,400 cities and towns in India. Its Data Center Interconnect footprint covers more than 40 data centers in India and its Cloud Interconnect service provides on-demand access to leading public cloud and SAAS providers in India.

Ciena said its Waveserver Ai and 6500 Packet-Optical Platforms enable Sify to program its network to adapt to changing service requiremand Plan (MCP) software will give Sify real-time software control and improve network visibility.
ents in real-time while supporting large capacities in the metro networks. Ciena's PinPoint software will allow Sify to address with precision any potential trouble spots, while Ciena’s Blue Planet Manage, Control

“As Sify Technologies supports more users, digital applications and connected things across India, they face the challenge of adapting to the demands being placed on their network. Ciena is committed to supporting Sify Technologies through its extensive experience and expertise, to deliver a more programmable infrastructure aided by software control and analytics to respond to changing network demands intuitively,” stated Ryan Perera, Vice President and General Manager, Ciena India.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers to merge

Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers have agreed to combine their operations and properties into a pan-India company with over 163,000 towers across all 22 of the nation's telecom service areas. Indus Towers currently operates in 15 telecom service areas (“Circles”) and Bharti Infratel’s operations are focused on the remaining 7 Circles.

The combined company, which will use the name Indus Towers Limited and be listed on the Indian stock exchanges, will be the largest tower company in the world outside of China.

Indus Towers is currently jointly owned by Bharti Infratel (42%), Vodafone (42%), Idea Group (11.15%) and Providence (4.85%). It is intended that Idea Group will sell its 11.15% shareholding for cash concurrent with the completion of the deal. Vodafone will be issued with 783.1m new shares in the combined company, in exchange for its 42% shareholding in Indus Towers.


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Vodafone sells its mobile towers in India to American Tower

Vodafone India completed the sale of its standalone tower business in India to ATC Telecom Infrastructure Private Limited (a unit of American Tower) for an enterprise value of INR 38.5 billion (EUR 478 million).

Vodafone India is merging with Idea. Both parties announced their intention to sell their individual standalone tower businesses to strengthen the combined financial position of the merged entity. Completion of Idea’s sale of its standalone tower business to ATC is also expected in the first half of this calendar year.

Completion of Vodafone+Idea merger is expected to complete in the first half of the current calendar year.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Market Update for India

We think of India as having one of the fast growing mobile market in the world. There is a huge population of unconnected or under connected citizens with a strong desire to join the online economy. Most likely, that connection will be mobile broadband.

While India does indeed have the faster growing mobile operator—Reliance Jio, which zoomed from zero to 160 million in only 16 month (for comparison, Verizon has 116.3 million retail connections) – the nation is shrinking month by month in terms of total mobile lines in operation.

How can this be? One aspect of the Indian market is that SIM cards are relatively cheap, and monthly service plans are also inexpensive.  Even for high-flying Reliance Jio, the average revenue per user (ARPU) per month is only 154 rupees (approximately $2.41).  On top of this, most users are enrolled in pre-paid plans. There is also the aggressive promotions whereby operators make great offers just to more SIM cards activated. As a result, many people with financial means will pick up multiple mobile phones and SIM cards, never bothering to cancel them is the ongoing maintenance cost is low enough.

This tends to distort the reported figures for market growth and gives us an unreliable picture of the relative strengths of each operator.

A consolidation is certainly underway. Of India’s twelve mobile operators, only five gained subscribers while seven operators experience declines. The winners are Bharti, Vodafone, Idea, Reliance Jio and BSNL. The losers are Aircel, Reliance, Tata, Telenor, MTNL, Sistema, and Quadrant.

The total number of wireless subscribers (GSM, CDMA & LTE) in India dipped for a second quarter in a row in Q3 2017 to 1,183.04 million, down from from 1,186.79 million at the end of Jul-17, according to the latest figures compiled by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) . Urban subscribers numbered 684.77 million compared to 498.28 million rural subscribers. Wireless teledensity declined from 92.12 at the end of Jun-17 to 91.56 at the end of Sep-17.

Some metrics:

  • Monthly ARPU GSM Full Mobility Service including LTE – 84 rupees
  • Monthly ARPU CDMA Full Mobility Service – 125 rupees
  • Minutes of Usage (MOU) per subscriber per month - GSM Full Mobility Service including LTE - 437
  • Total Outgoing Minutes of Usage for Internet Telephony – 283 million
  • Average Data Usage per subscriber per month – GSM (2G+3G+4G) - 1,610 MB
  • Average outgo per GB data for GSM including LTE (2G+3G+4G) – 21.22 rupees
  • Gross revenue for telecom operators in India (mobile and fixed) rose by 2.27%. The government statistics show that monthly Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) for Access Services was 88.09 rupees (US$1.37) as of 30-September-2017.
  • Not surprisingly, the number of wireline subscribers declined from 24.00 million at the end of Jun-17 to 23.67 million at the end of Sep-17 with quarterly decline rate of 1.37%.  However, it is strange that the number of Internet subscribers declined from 431.21 million at the end of Jun-17 to 429.23 million at the end of Sep-17, registering a quarterly growth rate of -0.46%.


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Reliance Comm to self-finance its Eagle subsea cable system

Reliance Communications has stated that its plans to self-finance its recently-announced, state-of-the-art express cable network which will extend from India via Thailand to Hong Kong and from India across the Middle East to Italy. The vision is to create a Next-Generation IP and Cloud environment across the emerging markets corridor that encompasses the Middle East into Europe, as well as the large economies of China, India and Indonesia.

The Eagle cable system, targeted for completion by the end of 2020, will be four/six fiber pair systems, with an initial design capacity of 12-24Tbps per fiber pair, using Next-Generation Coherent Submarine Fiber.

Reliance Comm's Global Cloud Xchange (GCX) has also entered into key partnerships to expand its Cloud ecosystem and data center footprint, further solidifying India’s position as a key global hub with a strategic edge in the next wave of technology growth and expansion across emerging markets.

GCX owns the world’s largest private undersea cable system spanning more than 67,000 route km which, seamlessly integrated with Reliance Communications’ 200,000 route km of domestic optic fiber backbone, provides a robust Global Service Delivery Platform.

“The Cloud and Fiber initiative is our response to the key requirements in the global marketplace, driven by the explosive growth in Cloud and infrastructure programs by enterprises around the world,” said Bill Barney, CEO of Reliance Communications & Chairman/CEO, Global Cloud Xchange. “Nearly half of the world’s population is reachable with a short distance from India’s borders, giving the country a strategic edge in the new Digital Era. This initiative levels the playing field for India’s companies to compete globally.”

Earlier this month, Reliance Jio Infocomm, the fastest growing mobile operator in the world and which is a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited, agreed to acquire specified assets of Reliance Communications Limited and its affiliates.

The sale includes assets under four categories – Towers, Optic Fiber Cable Network, Spectrum and Media Convergence Nodes, specifically:

  • 122.4 MHz of 4G Spectrum in the 800/900/1800/2100 MHz bands 
  • Over 43,000 towers, amongst the top 3 independent tower holdings in India 
  • ~ 1,78,000 RKM of fiber with pan India footprint 
  • 248 Media Convergence Nodes, covering ~5 Million sqft used for hosting telecom infrastructure

The deal was valued at US$$3.77 billion, according to media reports

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

India's Idea Cellular upgrades optical network with ECI

Idea Cellular, the third largest mobile operator in India and sixth-ranked in the world, has selected ECI to upgrade its optical network.

Under the project, ECI’s access DWDM solution will be rolled out across more than half of the operators’ network. ECI said its solution will ensure maximum utilization of Idea’s existing infrastructure while creating a future-proof solution that already accounts for additional upgrades.

“Idea is a pan-India wireless broadband operator offering high-speed mobile internet and digital content services to our customers. ECI has long been our partner and has supported us in rolling out 3G/4G networks with optimum solutions. We will be able to enhance capacity and meet the ever-growing demand for data with the new solution,” stated Mr. Anil Tandan, Chief Technology Officer, Idea Cellular.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Reliance Jio to acquire infrastructure of Reliance Comm

Reliance Jio Infocomm, the fastest growing mobile operator in the world and which is a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited, agreed to acquire specified assets of Reliance Communications Limited and its affiliates.

The sale includes assets under four categories – Towers, Optic Fiber Cable Network, Spectrum and Media Convergence Nodes, specifically:

  • 122.4 MHz of 4G Spectrum in the 800/900/1800/2100 MHz bands 
  • Over 43,000 towers, amongst the top 3 independent tower holdings in India 
  • ~ 1,78,000 RKM of fiber with pan India footprint 
  • 248 Media Convergence Nodes, covering ~5 Million sqft used for hosting telecom infrastructure

The deal was valued at US$$3.77 billion, according to media reports. Reliance Communications said it will use the proceeds for debt repayment and that it retains its other businesses including its enterprise networking practice, its data centers, and its subsea cable network.
Reliance Jio said the assets are strategic in nature and are expected to contribute significantly to the largescale roll-out of wireless and Fiber to Home and Enterprise services in India.

Reliance Jio was the winning bidder in a sale mandated by the lenders of Reliance Communications. The sale was managed by SBI Capital Markets Limited. The acquisition is subject to receipt of requisite approvals from Governmental and regulatory authorities, consents from all lenders, release of all encumbrances on the said assets and other conditions precedent.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Warburg Pincus buys 20% stake in Bhartin Telemedia

Warburg Pincus will acquire a 20% equity stake in Bharti Telemedia, a subsidiary of Bharti Airtel that offers Direct To Home (DTH) satellite service under the Airtel TV brand, for US$350 million. The business unit has approximately 14 million subscribers according to financial filings.

Viraj Sawhney, Managing Director, Warburg Pincus India, is expected to join the Board of Bharti Telemedia.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Cisco to acquire Cmpute.io for cloud optimization tools

Cisco will acquire Cmpute.io, a start-up based in Bangalore that optimizes applications by moving workloads between private and multiple public clouds or region, based on current performance metrics and/or spot pricing.  Financial terms were not disclosed.

Cmpute.io, also known as 47Line Technologies, analyzes cloud-deployed workloads and consumption patterns. Its cost-optimization strategies help customers
minimize cloud instance overprovisioning.

Cmpute.io’s team and technology will join Cisco CloudCenter.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Bharti Airtel to acquire Tata and its 42m mobile subscribers

Bharti Airtel, which currently ranks as India’s largest telecommunications services provider, will acquire the Tata Teleservices' Consumer Mobile Businesses (CMB) and its operations across India in nineteen circles, representing the bulk of India’s population and customer base. The deal is described as a merger that will be conducted on a debt-free and cash-free basis pending regulatory approval.

Key points:

  • Tata's 42 million mobile customers and the assets of Tata CMB will be transferred to Bharti Airtel
  • Tata's 178.5 MHz spectrum (of which 71.3 MHz is liberalised) in the 850, 1800 & 2100 MHz bands will be transferred to Bharti Airtel.
  • The transaction will also provide Bharti Airtel with an indefeasible right to use (IRU) for part of the existing fibre network of Tata.

Tata and Bharti Airtel agreed to further explore mutual areas of cooperation. Tata is also in initial stages of exploring combination of its Enterprise Business with Tata Communications and its Retail Fixed Line and Broadband business with Tata Sky.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Airtel, said, “This is a significant development towards further consolidation in the Indian mobile industry and reinforces our commitment to lead India’s digital revolution by offering world-class and affordable telecom services through a robust technology and solid spectrum portfolio. On completion, the proposed acquisition will undergo seamless integration, both on the customer as well as the network side, and further strengthen our market position in several key circles. The customers of Tata will be able to enjoy India’s widest and fastest voice & data network, and bouquet of Airtel’s best-in-class products and services.”

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tata Teleservices looks to shut mobile operations in India

It appears that Tata Teleservices is preparing to exit the mobile market in India.

According to TRAI, the national regulatory authority, Tata had 42,094,961 mobile subscribers as of the end of July, down by 1.6 million in only a month.

On Monday, Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran told The Economic Times, said the business was in "really bad shape".  It carries a debt of Rs 31,000 crore debt in addition to spectrum liability. It looks increasingly likely that the company will sell off its network assets and cease operations. No timelines were given.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Mobile Market Update for India

The total number of wireless subscribers (GSM, CDMA & LTE) in India actually dipped slightly in July, from 1,186.84 million at the end of Jun-17 to 1,186.79 million at the end of Jul-17, according to the latest figures compiled by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) . The dip, which represents a monthly growth rate of -0.004%, was driven by the loss of about two million wireless subscriptions in rural areas. India’s urban centres continued to gain subscribers during July.

The highly unusual decline in mobile subscriptions comes after an extended period of rapid growth for mobile networks in India.  Although one month is too short of a period to draw any hard conclusions about the future growth in mobile subscriptions for the nation, we know that the dip coincides with economic turmoil brought about by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s currency and tax reforms among other factors. India’s macro economic indicators have been pointing down for a while, penetration rates have reached saturation levels in many markets, and the disruptive entrance of Reliance Jio perhaps are all taking a toll on the telecoms sector.

TRAI reports that the wireless tele-density(%) in India declined from 92.12 at the end of Jun-17 to 92.03 at the end of Jul-17. The urban wireless tele-density increased from 167.97 at the end of Jun-17 to 168.21 at the end of Jul-17, however rural wireless tele-density declined from 57.31 to 57.04 during the same period.

Wireline subscribers declined from 24.00 million at the end of Jun-17 to 23.92 million at the end of Jul-17, representing a decrease of 0.08 million lines.





Tuesday, September 12, 2017

SK Telecom and Bharti Airtel form Strategic Partnership

SK Telecom, Korea’s largest telecommunications company, and Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecommunications services provider, announced a strategic partnership under which Airtel will leverage SK Telecom’s expertise to build the most advanced telecom network in India.

Areas of collaboration include bespoke software to dramatically improve network experience, leveraging advanced digital tools including machine learning, big data and building customized tools to improve network planning based on every customer’s device experience. The two companies will also collaborate to evolve standards for 5G, NFV, SDN and IoT. Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), Software-defined Networking (SDN) and Internet of Things (IoT), and jointly work towards building an enabling ecosystem for the introduction of these technologies in the Indian context.

“SK Telecom is delighted to announce a strategic partnership with Bharti Airtel, a global leading mobile operator,” said Park Jung-ho, the President and CEO of SK Telecom. “SK Telecom will work closely with Bharti to achieve new network innovations so as to deliver a greater value to Bharti’s customers.”

“We are extremely delighted to announce this partnership with the world’s leading operator when it comes to technology understanding and expertise. This partnership will bring a dramatically improved experience to Airtel customers in India by leveraging the expertise of a company that has built one of the best mobile broadband networks in the world,” Said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of Bharti Airtel.

http://www.globalskt.com

Monday, July 31, 2017

Market Update for India

India's mobile market continues to be the most dynamic worldwide thanks to Reliance Jio's entrance nine months ago. Mobile data traffic is booming, total subscriber count continues to rise, and rumours continue to swirl about consolidation of the 12 players into perhaps just a handful. Wireline subscription continue to drop rapidly at a monthly decline rate of 0.57% as mobile coverage, services, and offers proliferate.

New figures released by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) last week show that total wireless subscribers (GSM, CDMA and LTE) increased from 1,174.60 million at the end of Apr-17 to 1,180.82 million at the end of May-17, thereby registering a monthly growth rate of 0.53%. Adding in fixed line subscribers, the number of telephone subscribers in India increased from 1,198.89 million at the end of April to 1,204.98 million at the end of May, thereby showing a monthly growth rate of 0.51%. The monthly growth rate was stronger in rural areas (1.00% ) than in cities (0.15%), which indicates that finally many villages are getting connected. Rural tele-density increased from 57.02 at the end of April to 57.55 at the end of May, compared to urban tele-density of 172.28 at the end of May. Amazingly, Delhi now has a tele-density of 260%, while the state of Bihar in east India has a tele-density of 62%.

The Wireless Tele-density (%) in India increased from 91.34 at the end of April to 91.74 at the end of May. The Urban Wireless Tele-density increased slightly from 167.21 at the end of April to 167.24 at the end of May, and Rural Wireless Tele-density increased from 56.59 to 57.12 during the same period. The share of urban and rural wireless subscribers in total number of wireless subscribers was 57.30% and 42.70% respectively, at the end of May 2017.

In broadband, the number of subscribers increased from 284.23 million at the end of April to 291.61 million at the end of May with a monthly growth rate of 2.60%. The market is moving rapidly to mobile at the expense of DSL and fixed wireless. This breaks down as follows.

Broadband subscribers:

·         Wired subscribers - 18.23 million, for a -0.14% monthly growth rate.

·         Mobile devices users (phones and dongles) - 272.85 million, for a 2.80% monthly growth rate.

·         Fixed wireless subscribers (WiFi, WiMax, point-to-point radio and VSAT) - 0.53 million, -3.04% monthly growth rate.

·         The top five broadband service providers are Reliance Jio Infocom (117.34 million), Bharti Airtel (53.30 million), Vodafone (40.43 million), Idea Cellular (24.63 million) and BSNL (21.59 million). For wired broadband service providers, the top five were BSNL (9.80 million), Bharti Airtel (2.09 million), Atria Convergence Technologies (1.20 million), MTNL (0.99 million) and YOU Broadband (0.64 million).

TRAI monthly figures by mobile operator






Friday, July 28, 2017

NTT Com launches international network services, build 2 data centres in India

NTT Communications (NTT Com), the ICT solutions and international communications business within the NTT Group, announced the launch of international data network services in India through its affiliate NTT Communications India Network Services (NTTCINS).

NTT Com stated that the acquisition of its licence in India follows the launch of construction of two new Indian data centres in Mumbai and Bangalore, through subsidiary Netmagic, a provider of managed hosting and cloud services in India. As a result, NTTCINS will be able to offer infrastructure services and management and security services designed to meet companies ICT outsourcing needs.

NTT Com plans to invest $160 million in building the two data centres, which are scheduled to become operational by April 2018. The new data centres will add nearly 500,000 sq feet of gross floor space at full build out, increasing NTT Com's total gross footprint in India to 1,100,000 sq feet. The new data centres in Mumbai and Bangalore will accommodate 2,750 racks with 22 MW of power and 1,500 racks with 15 MW of power, respectively.

NTT Com noted that it became the first Japanese service provider to be awarded a Virtual Network Operator - International Long Distance (VNO-ILD) network licence for India in March. In addition, NTT Com provides Arcstar Universal One international network services in partnership with local carriers. The company also implements value-added services such as network virtualisation functions (NVF) utilising the infrastructure of its partner carriers in India.

Netmagic provides colocation service via a global network of data centres operated by NTT Com under the Nexcenter brand, as well as managed hosting, cloud, network, managed security, disaster recovery and software-defined storage services. NTT Com leverages global network infrastructure including its Tier-1 IP network, the Arcstar Universal One VPN network that reaches 196 countries/regions, and 140 secure data centres.


Commenting on the launch, NTT Com president and CEO Tetsuya Shoji said, "India has been a key strategic market for NTT Com with the accelerating shift of IT services from traditional enterprise data centres into the cloud-based services… for the past few years the business in India has consistently grown over 35% annually… with the expansion of the data centre foot print and new international data network services NTT Com aims to meet the growing market needs for mobility, e-commerce, IoT, cloud and big data".


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Monthly update on the Indian telecommunications market - Part 4

Full article: Part 1Part 2 , Part 3Part 4

Preamble - note on RJIO coverage, update on BharatNet and the DTH market

It will be noted that while in Parts 2 and 3 a fair amount of detail was provided on the complex, wholesale restructuring of the Indian mobile communications market for three out of the four main groups - Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and RCOM - RJIO was covered somewhat peripherally in terms of its actual and potential relationship to RCOM, and there are several reasons for that. Firstly, RJIO is not being restructured, secondly its structure and situation and offer so far are all dramatic but not that complicated, thirdly, the company has been covered in detail from its first moves in 2010 and more specifically over the last 18 months, both in quasi-monthly updates on the market and in at least one dedicated series. In addition, it should be noted that however glorious its future may eventually turn out to be, the current situation is that RJIO is still very much a work in progress with as yet almost no revenue, no meaningful customer service history and no base of committed customers.

While India's mobile market is by far the largest part of its communications systems and OND normally focuses on this currently turbulent sector, the country looks poised for real economic lift-off, and could manage to double its wealth each decade, so that many of its smaller markets will start to be of greater interest.

BharatNet - India's National Optical Fibre Network

This project, launched by the Indian government in October 2011 at a proposed cost of INR 20,000 crore, as the National Optical Fibre Network, to link 250,000 small and medium-sized villages (gram panchayats) to a national fibre backbone and thus bring India's still huge unconnected rural population into one national digital internet community via fixed broadband rates of under INR 150 per month, has constantly missed connectivity targets set for it. This is largely due to difficulties of obtaining rights of way to lay the fibre. As of late February 2015, only 5,000 villages had been connected. In early April 2015, when 20,000 villages were reported to have been connected, the project, expected to cost INR 72,000 crore, was re-launched under the name BharatNet, with a target of completing the 250,000 connections by the end of 2016.

At the end of May 2015 at a meeting in New Delhi of representatives of the majority of Indian states, chaired by Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, it was revealed that several states, namely Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha. Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, all said to be dissatisfied with the rate of progress of implementation of the network (nominally being carried out under the management of SPV Bharat Broadband Network Limited and executed by CPSUs BSNL, RailTel and Powergrid) were considering, had proposed or were already engaged in implementing independent state versions of the network.

Specifically, in mid-January 2015 India's Economic Times had reported that the state government of Andhra Pradesh (with a population of over 53 million, or 4.0% of the national total) planned to provide broadband connections with speeds of up to 15 Mbit/s to 12 million households for a monthly fee of INR150 in the first stage of a local INR 50 billion optical fibre deployment project, and had requested India's federal government hand over its share of funds from the NOFN. Also, in mid-October 2016 the first minister of the State of Maharashtra (population - 121 million, or 9.29% of the national total) Defendra Fadnavis, was quoted by numerous sources as saying that the Maharashtra government was investing around INR 5,000 crore in the Digital Maharashtra project, which in the first phase would digitally connect 29,000 gram panchayats across the state under a program called MahaNet, described as part of BharatNet and designed to ensure education, healthcare, better access to government services and markets.

Similarly, in mid September 2015 NDTV reported that the government of the state of Tamil Nadu (population 78 million, or about 6.0% of the national total) would, using an ISP license obtained from India's Ministry of Communications and an investment of about $452 million, provide Internet services including IPTV via the state-owned CATV operator Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation and implement BharatNet linking over 12,500 local rural bodies in the state. TACTV has signed a pact with RailTel to provide high speed broadband services and 552 local cable operators have been selected for this operation so far. The broadband will be provided by a newly formed company, the Tamil Nadu Fibernet Corporation, which may later offer VoD services as well.

Meanwhile, on February 1, 2017 Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the government would allocate INR 10,000 crore ($1.6 billion) to expand the BharatNet project in fiscal 2018. Jaitley added that high-speed broadband over fibre would be available in over 1.5 lakh gram panchayats with hotspots and access to digital services at low tariffs by the end of 2017-18.

Commercial DTH market with 62.65m active subscribers

Since its introduction in 2003, Indian DTH service has displayed a phenomenal growth. DTH has attained a registered pay subscriber base of around 97.05 million (including 62.65 million active subscribers). As on December 2016 there were 6 pay DTH service providers, aside from viewership of the free DTH services of state-owned Doordarshan.

These six private DTH firms are Dish TV, Reliance BIG TV, Tata Sky, Videocon d2h, Sun Direct TV and Bharti Telemedia. State broadcaster Doordarshan also runs a DTH platform for free-to-air channels called DD Free Dish, which some sources claim has around 20-22 million users. Of the pay TV vendors, Dish TV is the market leader with a 25% share, followed by Tata Sky with a 23%, according to data for September 2016 from TRAI. Videocon d2h and Bharti Telemedia have 20% market share each.

In November 2016 Zee Entertainment Enterprises-owned DTH platform Dish TV and the DTH arm of Videocon Industries announced plans to merge into a new 55/45% entity to be renamed as Dish TV Videocon, which based on the most recent TRAI data above would have a 45% market share and serve 27.6 million customers within an overall market of 175 million TV households. Meanwhile, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has asked TRAI to assess whether this merger will violate any anti-trust laws.

Although the DTH market in India continued to grow during 2026 there is evidence that it is coming under pressure at the top end from OTT services from companies such as Amazon and Netflix, and at the bottom end from Doordarshan, which is believed to have gained customers recently partly due to the impact of India's demonetisation drive on rural populations.

Full article: Part 1Part 2 , Part 3Part 4

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NTT Com Acquires International LD License in India

NTT Communications (NTT Com) announced that it recently acquired a Virtual Network Operator - International Long Distance (VNO-ILD) license in India through its local affiliate NTT Communications India Network Services (NTTCINS).

The new license for India will enable NTT Com to add Arcstar Universal One International Network Services to its existing portfolio of services in India. At present, in India NTT Com provides national long distance (NLD) network services through affiliate NTTCINS, as well as colocation, managed hosting, cloud and ICT management services via affiliate company Netmagic.

Following the award of the virtual network operator license, from July of this year NTT Com plans to leverage its portfolio of ICT solutions to help enterprise customers build ICT environments to support their business operations in India. NTT Com will specifically offer ICT solutions including WAN, LAN, data centre and associated value added services to Indian businesses and multinational corporations.

In addition, NTT Com plans to enhance its network services via the addition of Internet access options and to improve service quality through expanded relationships with local carriers.

NTTCINS launched operations in India in 2003 and has established nodes in Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and New Delhi in cooperation with local carrier Tata Communications. The operator operates a backbone network with diverse routes and has offices in major cities across India.

Netmagic, based in Mumbai, is a major managed hosting and cloud service provider in India, with 9 carrier-neutral data centres. The company claims more than 2,000 enterprises customers worldwide. Netmagic also delivers remote infrastructure management (RIM) services to enterprise customers globally, including NTT Com customers in the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Monthly update on the Indian telecommunications market - Part 2

Full article: Part 1Part 2 , Part 3Part 4

Update on consolidation of the 12-operator telecom market to four groups

Group 1 - Bharti Airtel plus Telenor

Bharti Airtel to acquire Augere Wireless, Telenor India and possibly some spectrum from Tikona

On February 17th Bharti Airtel, the current Indian telecom market leader, which as of December 2016 served 23.57% of Indian mobile subscriptions, closed the acquisition of Augere Wireless, a company which holds 20 MHz of spectrum in the 2,300 MHz band spectrum in the Madhya Pradesh circle.

Also, as previously reported by OND, on February 23rd Bharti Airtel and Norwegian multinational operator Telenor, whose Indian subsidiary at the end of 2016 served 4.83% of mobile subscriptions,
announced an agreement whereby Bharti Airtel would acquire most of the assets of Telenor India, including access to 44 million customers (nominally increasing its user base to over 320 million, though the final figure is likely to be less), 43.4 MHz of spectrum in the 1,800 MHz band and 20,000 base stations. The cashless deal, which is expected to close in April 2018, will include Airtel acquiring Telenor India's running operations in seven circles: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, UP (East), UP (West) and Assam.

On March 24th persons familiar with the matter told the LiveMint news-source that Bharti Airtel was in the final stages of talks with Tikona Digital Networks of Mumbai to buy the latter's 4G spectrum in a transaction which could be worth in the range of INR 800-1,000 crore (excluding debt, which Airtel would assume, raising the total value to INR 1,500-1,700 crore). Tikona's 4G spectrum consists of 20 MHz in the 2,300 MHz band in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh (East), Uttar Pradesh (West) and Rajasthan, which would be particularly useful for Airtel in UP (East), UP (West) and Rajasthan, where it has no airwaves in the 2,300 MHz band, and in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, where it has only 10 MHz each. The arrangement would not include Tikona' wireless broadband business, Tikona WiBro, which it would continue to run independently.

On March 28th Bharti Airtel said it had sold a 10.3% stake in its tower company, Bharti Infratel, to a
consortium of funds (including private equity firm KKR and Canada Pension Plan Investments Board (CPPIB)) to raise INR 6,193.9 crore. The company said it would us the proceeds of the sale to further pay down its corporate debt, which as of the end of September 2016 stood at INR 98,813.50 crore.
As a result of all these moves, Bharti Airtel will end up with an important increase in its share of subscriptions which, based on the December 2016 numbers, would be 28.40%, with a significant improvement in its 4G spectrum holdings and slightly stronger financial position.

Group2 - Vodafone plus Idea Cellular

$23bn merger of India's No. 2 and 3 operators to create world's second largest company by mobile subscriptions

As previously reported, Vodafone India, the country's second largest operator which as of the end of 2016 served 18.16% of Indian mobile subscriptions, and third-ranked Idea Cellular, with a 16.90% share, announced they were in merger talks. For some time Vodafone, which has had continuous problems locally for many years including poor profitability and major taxation disputes with the Indian government, had made it clear it was interested in modifying its position in India. Idea Cellular is currently owned 49.05% by the $41 billion sales level Indian conglomerate group Aditya Birla (chaired by Kumar Mangalam Birla) and 19.96% by the Axiata Group of Malaysia, and for its 2016 financial year reported revenue of INR 394 billion.

On March 21st it was announced that the boards of Idea Cellular and Vodafone India had approved a $23 billion merger (excluding the latter's 42% stake in Indus Towers), which if completed in FY 2018 would, based on the latest TRAI numbers, become India's largest telecom company with a pro forma mobile wireless subscriptions market share of around 35.06%, revenue share of the Indian communications market of around 41%, and about 395 million actual mobile subscriptions, making it the second largest company in the world after China Mobile.

The new company's pro forma revenue would be around INR 81,600 crore and it with operating profit of INR 24,400 crore and combined debt of INR 1.08 trillion. The mechanics of the merger, which is expected to take about 24 months to complete, will be evolutionary as outlined in the following from LiveMint:

- 'The deal will see Aditya Birla Group, the promoters of Idea, gradually raising its stake in the combined entity while Vodafone Group will reduce its own, with the aim of both holding equal stakes over a period of time'.

- 'As a first step, the Aditya Birla Group will acquire 4.9% from Vodafone for INR 3,874 crore, or INR 108 a share, to take its stake to 26% with Vodafone holding 45.1%, while AB Group will have the right to buy another 9.5% from Vodafone at INR 130 a share or the prevailing market price, in the combined entity over four years'.

- 'Kumar Mangalam Birla will be the chairman of the new entity, Vodafone will name the CFO, while the two companies will jointly name the CEO and operations head before the closure of merger, expected within 24 months. The new entity will remain listed and be renamed at a later stage, with the promoters of Idea and Vodafone having the right to nominate three members each on the board, which will have 12 directors, six of whom will be independent'.

Interim comment on the risky nature of the above merger

Although LiveMint reported very thoroughly and professionally with minimum comment on the terms and mechanics of the proposed Vodafone/Idea merger on March 21st, it swiftly followed up on March 22nd with an extremely acerbic article by consulting editor Sundeep Khanna (entitled A crown of thorns awaits the Vodafone-Idea merged entity), who left few doubts about how negative he felt about the deal, pointing out that:

• Mergers of equal-sized companies were typically disastrous (because of constant turf squabbles), and the way the top jobs were due to be filled looked messy.
• Both brands would continue to be promoted in parallel making this an inorganic, i.e. incomplete,
merger.
• Mergers generated in a panic as a reaction to threatening outside events (in this case the massive
disruptive incursion of RJIO) were often put together very badly.
• Despite the aggressive public language about the new JV setting out to dominate the Indian
communications market, he felt that Idea had settled for 'bronze position' and that Vodafone's real focus was now on consolidating its position in Europe as the leader in fully converged communications and that it was no longer committed to the Indian market, noting that 10 years after it first entered the Indian market with its acquisition of Hutchison Telecommunications International stake in Hutchison Essar Vodafone seemed ready to get off the roller-coaster ride that has witnessed two write-downs, an aborted IPO and a pending $2.5 billion retrospective tax charge with little to show in terms of profits.

Nonetheless, as a coda to the above its worth noting that on March 24th India's Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) announced that as of February 21, 2017 in its 243rd meeting it had retrospectively approved the acquisition by Vodafone India of 100% of the stock of YOU Broadband, an Indian cable operator with 600,000 customers. So perhaps Vodafone still sees a long term opportunity for its Indian operations.

Full article: Part 1Part 2 , Part 3Part 4

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