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Jan 9th, 2011, Vol:1

Editor's Words

By Sridhar Pai, ceo, Tonse Telecom


Winter thaw in Indian telecom

While Indian telecom steps into 2011 with hope of transforming a hitherto languishing low ARPU business, it is also looking forward to forget a scam-ridden year and perhaps hope for a clean, green new year. Several billion dollars and 6 months after the spectrum auctions there is not much to write home about a single operator having done anything major from the recently acquired airwaves. Except for DoCoMo and RCOM we have not even heard any announcements of a launch. Just after auctions the air was thick with stories of a 3G Diwali or a flashy New Year launch but we have seen none so far. There is word of trials and soft launches, demo views in select operator-owned stores but we have yet to find any passionate 3G app or customer or a claim for something out of the blue…
Bharti and other operators have claimed for long that they already have a '3G-ready network'. And RCOM has said for long that all they need to do is 'switch on'.


Basically it has been a winter of discontent for Indian telecom. The operators have had to struggle with some horrendous issues. Firstly, they may have started wondering if all those billions of dollars spent on spectrum may have been a matter of irrational exuberance after all. Second, from a regulatory perspective they could be worried about the onslaught of MNP and some eagle eye on prior procurement of spectrum – as all the skeletons now seem to be rolling out one after the other. Last but probably the most important concern could be about which version the RIL juggernaut may take to strike them.


The impact of RIL perhaps could be the most dangerous of all as little is known about what is being planned under the hood yet everyone knows the potential of RIL and its capabilities. Firstly RIL is the only national spectrum holder with 22 circles under one umbrella – no roaming arrangements to seek with anyone for coverage. Secondly RIL is likely to put up a multi-technology network that will blanket 784 towns in India with the requisite transport to deliver the bits of choice. No compromises. RIL will make a technology choice such as TD LTE which will allow them to seamlessly carry carrier-class voice payloads unlike WiMAX and not limited to data. Besides with a 20MHz band they are better off than any 3G operator who has to deal with data promises and voice in a narrow 5MHz channel.


Considering the other Reliance's [RCOM's] financial woes as clear from their quarterly reports, it is imperative for RCOM to seek support from larger carrier / investor for support. At a time when RIL is seeking to bolster its build-out and put together a best-in-class network for its own use, RCOMs' situation may be welcome. RIL may be in a position to embrace all or most of RCOMs transport infrastructure in a manner that helps both parties. This is bound to create a monster telco which could spell disaster to all existing operators.


If the above becomes a reality, RIL will not only become the undisputed mobile broadband operator but may also shake up the minutes business in voice. Bulk voice minutes may turn to VOIP as end to end IP calls suddenly go on-Net instead of hopping over multi-operator networks. Knowing RIL's ability to visualize global scale and form, expect unimaginable combination of content-driven tariff plans, mCommerce and transactions tied to device form-factors that are yet to be imagined. RIL's investment into Notion Ink should trigger some ideas if you are listening closely.

If a phone call could be made at the cost of postcard, as the senior Ambani said decades ago, why shouldn't mobile broadband be available at a paisa per byte? This possibility is just but round the corner.
How to counter this maniacal competitor? This is perhaps the cause of the winter thaw that is keeping our cellcos up at night.

Economic Times : MOBILE handset sales data from the two tracking agencies in the country IDC and GfK-Nielsen reveal drastic differences in market share and ranking of companies such as Nokia, Samsung and LG with variations of up to 15% in some cases, prompting the industry to question the credibility of the numbers. more
Clearwire completes 2010 WiMax build
With a few days to spare, Clearwire today completed the first major phase of its nationwide mobile broadband rollout with the launch of WiMax service in San Francisco and the Bay Area. The final market added 4 million pops to its footprint, which, coupled with the 2 million pops added in the Denver area last week, bring Clearwire right up to only slight short of the 120 million pops coverage it targeted for year end. more
Australian National Broadband Project Will Cost $35.4 Billion, NBN Says
Australia's national broadband network will cost A$35.9 billion ($35.4 billion) and will have 13 million customers by 2021, the project's operator said today in a report.

NBN Co. said it will seek debt funding from 2015, expected to peak at A$13.4 billion, and will generate a 7.04 percent rate of return, the state-owned company said in the statement more
AT&T Agrees to Acquire Wireless Spectrum from Qualcomm
Spectrum to help AT&T continue to enhance the mobile broadband experience nationwide
Dec. 20, 2010 AT&T and Qualcomm Incorporated announced today that AT&T has agreed to purchase spectrum licenses in the Lower 700 MHz frequency band from Qualcomm for $1.925 billion. The move will bolster AT&T's ability to provide an advanced 4G mobile broadband experience for its customers in the years ahead. more
Apple, Nokia and Google fight for Nortel patents
TThree giants reported to be bidding for IPR whose sale could total $1bn
The most valuable is likely to be the one for LTE, a platform that is still sufficiently young for many players to be fighting for IPR control. Nortel contributed significantly to both 4G standards, WiMAX and LTE, with R&D in key areas like OFDMA and MIMO. Firms like Nokia might be keen to boost their bargaining power in LTE patents against majors like Qualcomm and Huawei. The three firms fighting to define the new mobile experience - Apple, Nokia and Google - are all said to be bidding in an auction that could generate $1bn for Nortel's creditors. more
Airtel, Vodafone & Idea join hands to offer 3G services
Mobile phone companies are firming up 3G alliances as many service providers are slated to launch these high-end services this quarter. So far, only two of the six private operators that won third generation frequencies, Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices, have launched services on this high-end platform. more
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About Tonse Telecom

Tonse Telecom is a research, consulting and advisory services organization focusing on the India telecom sector. Tonse Telecom enables telecom equipment vendors, ISVs, infrastructure developers and investors for success in the Indian telecom marketplace.

Tonse Telecom has onboard, a team of reputed senior industry executives and consultants who provide advisory services on specific projects. Tonse covers a broad spectrum of telecom technologies that include Wi-Fi /BWA / WiMAX, IMS, FMC and Triple Play, VoIP, Mobile VAS, End-device Applications and Mobile Content.

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