VSATs to accelerate expansion of banking, retail sectors
“VSATs can provide a quick-start option to organizations that are looking at expanding their networks to multiple locations in a short span of time,” says Shivaji Chatterjee, Vice-President, Hughes India. The key segments where VSATs can play a critical role include banking, retail, education and government.
The growth of VSATs in the country has been slow, but steady. Apart from supporting e-governance initiatives in areas like healthcare, waterworks and other public utilities, VSATs have been particularly beneficial for sectors like banking and education where the need to reach out to the semi-urban and rural population is very high.
“In the absence of any other reliable connectivity option, satellite-based communication becomes the obvious choice for such sectors,” explains Chatterjee. “But this does not mean that companies setting up branches in urban areas are not relying on VSATs,” he is quick to add. The last 2-3 years have also seen a sudden spurt of customers in other areas like retail, digital cinema, e-learning and so on. With a number of large-scale retail chains being set up by Reliance, Future Group and others across the country, VSATs could be seen catering to many new customers in the coming months.
Traditional VSAT customers in sectors like banking and government would, of course, continue to rely on VSATs for their expansion. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recently announced time-bound targets and directed banks to reach the unbanked, estimated at 480 million and mostly living in India’s 630,000 villages. What’s more, every one million people in India are served by a mere 39 ATMs, translating to a vast underserved segment that offers enormous potential for growth.
The VSAT market in India is currently dominated by Hughes Communications, which has over 75,000 VSAT deployments across the country, with a market share of about 60%. The other key players in this space include Bharti Airtel, Tatanet and HCL Comnet.
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