Ravi Shankar Rai, Managing Director, Savitri Group
Telecom is a technology which is working as a growth driver for the economy of the country. Telecom is playing a big role in the success of all industries. Telecom is not just a necessity or utility for making a voice call rather it has an imprint in all important sectors like education, auto, medical, IT, gas, electricity, and above all in governance itself. Growth of each and every sector is dependent on a good telecom infrastructure.
Signs of stagnation started appearing in the telecom sector of late as teledensity peaked but entry of a new operator in 2017 played the real spoilsport. This situation suddenly led to a consolidation phase in the industry. However, a 15–20-years-old industry should have possessed enough strength to overcome the competition but they were caught off-guard. Any technology-based industry not having a sound customer base made out of customer satisfaction and customer relationship cannot claim of having a sustainable business model. We have the example of a topmost company about two decades earlier viz. Alcatel, which is nowhere now and this must have happened due to a similar situation and lack of a sustainable business model.
This has proved an eye opener too for the industry which had off late become sluggish but as a rule any industry should expect competition at any stage and there is no space for complacency. Smaller countries of the size of Delhi are having three telecom players and I think in a market size of India at least 10–15 players can carry out sustainable business. If we look at Indian telecom operators they increased their size enormously within the last 15–20 years more than anywhere in the world. This must have happened because of the potential available in the market but if the operators only think of increasing earning and increasing profit they would be compromising with the services. Economy in cost is important but service quality has to be maintained. It is seen that quality of services is not up to mark mainly due to insufficient infrastructure. Perhaps operators are not willing to invest more money in building of superb infrastructure. One reason may be the reduction in their margin but it is quite natural that the margin of profit goes down as the industry becomes old. The entry of a new player may have been a factor in the reduction of margin but no player can play with this model of providing free services and has to finally settle down on commercial terms.
Coming to the future of the industry in the year 2018 and further I find that for the industry as a whole whether it is service providers, vendors, manufacturers, or ancillary lot of opportunities are coming down their way.
Use of telecom is increasing widely and touching all strata of the society in every sector be it social, business, education, agriculture, administration, and many others. Therefore, the future of the service and manufacturing sector of the telecom industry looks very bright considering the huge infrastructure development relating to NFSL and telecom network through BBNL which has rolled out plans for laying of more than 3 lakh km of fiber network in its second phase. There is further scope of growth in many of the government projects both at the center and state such as Smart City project, E-governance project, and digitization of government departments such as judiciary, police, panchayats etc.
The power and gas sector is going to modernize their infrastructure in a big way using telecom network and IT and they are going to introduce lot of smart devices in the system. This in itself is another big opportunity for the telecom sector. Hon’ble Minister Pradhan during India Mobile Congress expressed similar views. Security and surveillance have to be strengthened in the country and machine to machine communication will increase in the time to come.
I, therefore, conclude that there the future of the telecom industry as a whole is bright in the days to come.