"We are bullish on the Indian market"
Natarajan Viswanathan, MD for India and the SAARC region at CommScope Enterprise Solutions, a division of American telecommunications cable major CommScope, believes the broadband revolution in India is just beginning. He believes the “second phase of growth” will begin with increased penetration of broadband in the country.
- By Ashwin Mamidi
Q] CommScope has products for the carrier and enterprise markets. What are your focus areas in India?
What we are trying to do in India is move into areas like in-building wireless - While our traditional business is to serve the carriers and service providers directly.
We are also looking at enterprise customers who are faced with the problem of blind carriers where they face the problem of no-signal. We are taking to them products like in-building wireless [which helps boost signal].
CommScope basically provides services in the at-home, on-the-go and at-work spheres through our broadband, wireless and enterprise groups. We are coming together with an internal initiative called One CommScope – where we approach an enterprise customer [which is our core play] and explain how our other divisions can help them.
For example, if a customer wants to set up a broadband network on a campus, we have a variety of solutions which can be deployed. As part of our One CommScope initiative, each one of our divisions is tuned into the requirements of each other’s customers. This is something our competition does not really do.
We expect demand from the healthcare and IT sectors, which demand fire-resistant materials be incorporated into building facilities. We are uniquely positioned to serve this demand.
Our low-smoke, zero-halogen cables only produce 15 percent of the smoke produced by traditional PVC cables. Our argument that technology can address safety issues has gone down very well with our customers.
Our competitors might be doing larger volumes of business but we are not too concerned about that. We choose our customers; we get their requirements and deploy the solution in a scrupulous manner.
We give a 20-year warranty on our products. Our confidence comes from our R&D efforts. If the current standards specify ‘X’ performance, we give the customer ‘4X’ performance. We are far ahead of our competition.
We expect to service the demand well in India.
Q] So you are bullish on the Indian market?
We have always been bullish on the Indian market. We think success or failure in the Indian market depends on planning, and how innovative a company is in taking its solutions to the market.
Q] We heard about CommScope doing a project in Italy to provide broadband solutions for the Rome Metro. Any such plans in India?
While I can’t name the projects at this point, I can say that we are involved in at least four Metro projects in four different cities in India, where we are in the process of helping our customer figure the scope of the RFP.
We are very active in this space. We have extensive experience in China, where we have deployed a combination of our wireless and enterprise solutions into an offering for eight different Metro rail projects.
Q] What’s CommScope focus on SMEs?
You can never ignore SMEs.
I have a pet theory that enterprise customers can behave like mid-market ones, while there are SMEs which behave like enterprise customers.
This means that SMEs want the best of infrastructure, where they know they will find it hard to be able to keep upgrading it on a regular basis. So SMEs take the decision to get the best possible infrastructure at the first step itself.
And we have taken a number of tremendous initiatives because we know that SMEs need to deploy solutions quickly and most of the time they are not in a long planning cycle. So, ignore SMEs at your own peril. They form a huge part of the backbone of many countries economy.
Further to this we are trying to reach out to SMEs in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. That is a major focus going further. Availability of products is key in this market. We are ensuring our distributors and partners are up to the task.
Q] Please can you elaborate further?
Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities are going to be on every manufacturer’s radar given the potential they offer beyond the metropolitan zones. There is demand there. Manufacturers are realizing that it makes sense to establish their operations in such centers to stay close to where the action is.
At the same time they also have the advantage of cheaper real estate and access to resources. Certain state governments have taken major initiatives to attract investment to these centers in a big way.
Q] The CommScope way of working?
We work with partners. Our distributors stock the inventory. Our partners buy it and take it to the customer. While supplying the product to the customer, our partner also brings installation and maintenance skills.
We have two clear areas here.
Design & Engineering: Where a partner walks into a bare shell of a building and once given the seating plan – converts the requirement into a bill of materials.
Installation & Maintenance: CommScope’s installation techniques are all performance based. Hence our 20-year guarantee. We ensure our partners adhere to the standards we prescribe to.
All this comes through a lot of effort CommScope invests in its partners in terms of training and orientation.
Q] In terms of challenges in the Indian market, what do you foresee?
The speed with which companies’ take decisions is probably the main driver in their growth in India. The same goes with government legislation – the more decisive the government is in bringing crucial legislation to the fore – the better investment environment it creates.
Otherwise we do not foresee major challenges as such. We have always been bullish about India. We have grown our business tremendously last fiscal. We are planning a repeat this year, in terms of prospective and repeat business.
Q] What about environmental responsibility? CommScope seems to be very serious about its carbon footprint being as less as possible. Please elaborate.
CommScope offers a separate set of products that are in tune with the company’s green initiatives. What is important to understand is that we need to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible.
While this is happening in some countries by means of legislation, companies are also adopting stringent standards to reduce their overall impact on the environment.
Our facilities have effective systems in place to ensure that our commitment to the environment actually makes a difference.
Q] How do you see the broadband market growing in India?
In terms of the larger market for broadband services, there is a lot of scope in India. The penetration is very low as of now. That means more opportunity for us.
The market is growing tremendously and it will be interesting to see what kind of applications gain acceptance due to the availability of an effective broadband network pan-India. We can then expect the second phase of growth in the market.
In terms of our performance in this exciting market, I can tell you that CommScope has been quite successful till date. There are many direct-to-home service providers who are using our products today. We have very good brand recall in India. Our gel-filled cable offerings receive excellent reviews.
We expect greater demand from quality conscious customers in India.
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