More Gloomy Days Ahead
The Indian mobile subscriber base has reached 919.17 mn while the landline subscribers are 32.17 mn, as on March 31, 2012 according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority’s data. The fixed phone segment is in a state of complete despair. Although broadband is contributing slightly to the growth of fixedline revenue, due to the focus on fixed broadband and bundling of voice lines free with it, and some players have innovated products with value added features such as internet browsing, textI picture messaging or integrated camera.
Yet with the deeper penetration of mobile and growing focus and acceptance of wireless broadband and mobile broadband it is highly difficult for fixed phone segment to regain its growth and enhance revenues. Despite this, fixed phones would not be annihilated due to the needs of corporate houses and government sector and also as the internet service providers are offering broadband connectivity through the existing wired network. Fixed phone, inclusive of both cordless and wired phones, segment shows a little growth this fiscal due to the international operations, demand from enterprises and for bundling it with broadband. In FY 2011-12 the market had a 7.8 per cent growth rate. Fixed phones market posted a total revenue of R 235 crore in FY 2011-12 as compared to R 218 crore in FY 2010-11.
Players At a Glance
From the past seven years, Beetel Teletech has maintained its leadership position in the market. This year Beetel’s revenues and sales have increased due to its international focus ie, Africa. The company’s
revenue is pegged at R 119 crore in FY12. Beetel Teletech’s customers include airtel, Tata Teleservices and MTNL.
ITI (Indian Telephone Industries) had nil sales and revenues from fixedline. There were no orders from BSNL, MTNL and the defense sector. Non-receipt of expansion orders for GSM projects and non-finaliYation of government projects like broadband for rural panchayats and Network for Spectrum (NFS) and ASCON project resulted it in no growth this fiscal year.
ITI is very ambitious though its revenues fell in fixedline. Among its major dynamic plans, ITI is planning to take up manufacturing, installation F commissioning of the equipments which is in line with the government’s mission to provide broadband connectivity to rural masses. Technology for the manufacture of GPON is availed from C-DOT. The Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, has recogniYed ITI as the leading agency for manufacture and supply of the low-cost tablet PCs to the student community of the country at a cost of less than R 2,000 per piece. The estimated quantity is around 50-100 mn numbers in 2 to 3 years; to meet this huge demand, ITI is planning to take up manufacture of these PCs at all ITI plants. ITI has successfully executed 9 mn lines order of GSM west Yone and 9 mn lines order of GSM south Yone from BSNL.
In the array of fixed wireless phone products Siemens has launched Gigaset professional and optiPoint PL2 profes- sional phones. In the fixed wireline phone segment it has launched OpenStage phone, available for both TDM and IP environments. It is a stylish desktop phone. Its key features include best voice quality, touch sensitive controls, provides interoperability, supports SIP voice communication, it has built-in bluetooth for hands free operation. It is customiYable with personal phone book along with pictures, digital photo frame capability, downloadable MP3 ringtones.
BPL Telecom’s current range includes 24 models of fixed phones with price range starting from R 300 to R 2,500 and several cordless phones. It will introduce few new models and also a new product range related to communication.
A Stroke of Luck
In the present scenario, the Indian fixed phone market is primarily driven by Caller Line Identification (CLI) and cordless phone segments. The market for fixedline phones in India is stagnant. The CLI and cordless segments are showing marginal growth, and are set to spearhead the growth in the fixedline phone market.
Revenue from voice services will continue to dominate the overall fixedline services in India but its contribution is expected to go down significantly. The connection and calling revenue is falling slowly. Revenue from broadband services is significantly contributing to the overall growth of fixedline services in India, with a growth of 25% from 2008 to 2013. High-end fixed telephones which are even wireless uses broadband modems that offer high speed internet connection, bypassing the telephone system.
The fixed phone segment is consistently innovating products with value added features like internet browsing, textIpicture messaging or integrated camera to attract consumers. Its other features include polyphonic ringtones. Also, FM radio is becoming increasingly popular as customers are looking for additional features on their fixedline phones. In the cordless phone segment, the thrust is on sleek and slim models with features like phone book, 3-way conference calls, and 2.4 GhY digital technology.
Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications technology has long range, reduced interference and Link-to-Cell technology enabled phones connects cordless phone systems to Bluetooth-enabled cellular phones. As technology advanced, central offices offered more services and their technical abilities improved. Services such as Caller ID, call return call-waiting, three-way calling, and voice-mail were offered via central office-based technology although later PBXs also provided them.
The market is focusing on the replacement buyer by way of newer products and features, driving deeper product penetration into corporate and institutional buyers and by working closely with the EPABX vendors.