The total size of carrier equipment industry in 2000-01
was Rs 9,369.22 crore.
The V&D100 companies accounted for 81.8 percent of
the total industry size. The V&D100 equipment companies totalled Rs
5,746.89 crore while the turnkey companies contributed Rs 1,922.08 crore.
For a comparison with last year’s figures, the combined
equipment/turnkey Top 10 companies contributed Rs 6,965.09 crore. The
corresponding figure in 1999-2000 was Rs 5,133.9 crore. This was a growth of
The turnkey business grew rapidly, thanks to the large
cable deployment by companies. On the equipment front, almost all big
companies did well. Most of the private companies grew by more than 30
The new technology companies however, were slower. For
example, Cisco which had an impressive 125 percent growth, grew by less than
50 percent, compared to an impressive 101 percent by HFCL and 85 percent by
Lucent. Interestingly, both the companies had a mix of government and
private orders. Traditional equipment like TDM switching, GSM radio,
microwave, SDH and IS 95 CDMA wireless systems sold maximum.
New technologies like Carrier IP networks, GPRS systems
that were expected to be deployed were non- starters. DWDM systems
deployment also did not happen though the decision-making process has
started. Broadband technologies were deployed by a large number of service
providers, but in small ways.
As on 31 March 2001, BSNL had an equipped switching
capacity of 399 lakh. The corporation added 71.46 lakh lines, against a
target of 72.35 lakh. This was an under achievement of 1.23 percent. The
total switching capacity increased by 21.8 percent. In 1999-2000, the
corporation had added 65.95 lakh lines, against a target of 58.7 lakh, which
was an over-achievement of 37.58 percent. BSNL (DTS earlier) had been over
achieving the target for the last few years. It seems to have reached a
The total TAX capacity on 31 December 2000 (the latest
figures available) was 22.06 lakh. This meant an addition of 2.58 lakh lines
(an increase of 13.25 percent) over March 2000, total base of 19.47 lakh. It
seems BSNL will under achieve the target here as well, because it had plans
to add as much as 5.14 lakh by 31 March 2001. In 1999-2000 too, DTS had
underachieved, though by a smaller margin of 7.7 percent. With competition
coming in long distance, BSNL may well be fearing the under-utilization of
In 1999-2000, BSNL/MTNL started introducing Intelligent
Network (IN) services. In 2000-01, fifty locations were provided with IN
facilities, taking the total number of stations with similar facility to
Last year, BSNL issued a tender of 2.018 million lines
for new technology switches in January 2001. The price drop trend continued
with L1 Lucent quoting Rs 1,979 per line. The order was placed at that price
with Lucent (8,18,000 lines), Siemens (4,00,000 lines), Alcatel (4,00,000
lines), and HTL (4,00,000 lines). HTL accepted the order for only 1,00,000
lines. For the first time, ITI’s bid was rejected. So was Ericsson’s.
The total value of the order was worth Rs 340 crore.
MTNL also bought large new technology exchanges worth Rs
115 crore, at a price of roughly Rs 2,400 per line. Siemens bagged 1,90,000
lines while HTL, Lucent and ITI bagged 95,000 lines each.
Against an over-ambitious target of 1 lakh route
kilometers, BSNL managed to add 54,000 route kilometer of Optical Fiber
Cable (OFC), thanks to the unavailability of cable. Private service
providers came in a big way
and seriously affected BSNL’s plans. In fact, the total addition was not
only a huge 46 percent underachievement, it was lower than what was added in
the previous year.In 1999-2000, DoT had added 63,265 route kilometre, which
was almost double of what it had added in 1999-2000.
BSNL added a total of 583 lckm of Jelly-Filled Telephone
Cables (JFTC). But the company is planning to go for distributed switching
in a big way, thus hoping to optimize on the cable plant. In 2001-02,
therefore, BSNL will deploy less amount of JFTC. The plan as of date is to
deploy 473 lckm, though there is every possibility that it may be reduced
On the microwave front, BSNL overachieved by 60 percent
against the target and added 16,00 rkm of microwave. This is less than last
year’s addition of 19,881 rkm. This was because the company is wanting to
move to fiber and use microwave only in some areas. The total base as on 31
March 2001 was 1,85,152 rkm and it plans to add 7,500 rkm in 2000-02.
BSNL continued to deploy SDH equipment in full swing. It
also made new purchases worth around Rs 120 crore, out of which Rs 51 crore
was for STM 1 and Rs 69 crore was for STM 4. Fibcom bagged 40 percent of the
order while ITI bagged 20 percent. MTNL also bought SDH equipment worth Rs
35 crore in February. In India, SDH technologies from Tellabs and Mraconi
are competing for market share.
In 2001-02, it seems SDH is the mantra for BSNL. In
April-June 2001, there has been two tenders from the company for purchase of
SDH equipment. One for STM 16 equipment of the order of Rs 79 crore, and
another for all STM1/4/16 equipment worth about Rs 46 crore.
Though BSNL targeted installation of MCPC VSATs in a
major way, till December 2000, only forty-three such VSATs had been
deployed, as against a target of 164 units. That took the total installed
base to 394 VSATs.
On the satellite front, the BSNL/MTNL also augmented the
channel capacity of existing earth stations using Intermediate Data Rate (IDR)
facility. By 31 December 2001, IDR facility was available in fifty-four
routes in the country. Fifteen routes were provided with this facility in
the first three quarters of 2000-01against an annual target of twenty-three.
BSNL tried to reach the length and breadth of India with
wireless access. Primarily, two types of technologies are being used by BSNL/MTNL
for fixed wireless access–IS 95 CDMA and CorDECT. While IS-95 CDMA happens
be the most popular technology among the private service providers as well,
CorDECT is being used by a few private fixed line providers and BSNL.
There was a delay in deployment of CDMA-based solutions
as all the concerned parties had to set up their manufacturing units in
India. Plans were to deploy 1,00,000 VPTs in the country, but BSNL was able
to deploy around 34,000 VPTs only.
The January IS-95 CDMA-based WILL system was for rural
telephony. The total order was worth Rs 1,800 crore. LG bagged half of the
order while the other half was shared between HFCL/Hyundai and Lucent
Technologies. BSNL plans to cover 1,43,000 VPTs this year with WILL.
On the broadband side, BSNL/MTNL which had begun
deployment of HDSL systems in 1999-2000, completed the deployment of close
to 1,050 systems, at an estimated cost of Rs 17 crore.
BSNL and MTNL installed ATM switches in Delhi and
Bangalore, and by the first half of this year, they will commission ATM
switches in Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta.
Phase-I of the Sanchar Sagar project was completed in
August 2000. The project was conceived to provide National Information
Infrastructure connectivity for the National Internet Backbone and bandwidth
on demand. Phase-I of the project covers a route length of approximately
17,000 km and provides ten very high speed 2.5 Gbps capacity rings,
connecting thirty-three large cities all over the country including major
state capitals. A significant part of Phase-II of the Sanchar Sagar project
too, was completed. Phase-II of the project, when completed, will cover a
route length of 36,000 km on thirty-two rings of 2.5 Gbps capacity
connecting 150 cities. The Phase-II project is at an estimated cost of Rs
The VoIP tender that DTS had floated in May 2000,
however, was scrapped. The tender had generated a lot of interest and as
many as eighteen companies had bid.
New Infrastructure Providers
The cellular service providers went ahead with network
expansions to meet the surging demand. However, the new deployment remained
restricted to base stations and microwave radios. Few went for new
technologies. The only two service providers who announced plans to move
ahead of GPRS were BPL Mobile in Mumbai (with Motorola technology) and
Bharti Cellular in Delhi (with Ericsson).
Thanks to regulatory hurdles, the new infrastructure
providers, particularly in fixed services, have hardly made a beginning. By
March 2001, an estimated total of 2.2 DELs have been provided by all the
private service providers. The government had earlier projected 52 lakh
lines by 2002 by private fixed service providers.
Thanks to the delay in network roll out, most fixed
service providers are deploying broadband networks right from day one to
target corporate customers. All fixed service providers went ahead with
aggressive broadband plans, especially Tata Telservices, Hughes Tele.com and
HFCL Infotel, Bharti Telenet and Shyam Telelink are also combining broadband
with wireless. With both narrowband and multiple broadband technologies co-exisiting,
aggregation and access management platforms are being deployed by many
operators. Unisphere and Lucent have emerged as the major players in access
Apart from the fixed service licensees, a few of the ISPs
also built broadband networks in selected metros. Mumbai is at the forefront
in the deployment of metro networks with companies like BSES Telecom, Tata
Power, India Online Network, Hathway Cables, In2Cable, and Zee Interactive
rolling out their metro networks. Tata Power made news by signing the first
DWDM deal in India with Sycamore. HFC is what most companies have gone for.
In2Cable, Zee and Spectranet are building OFC backbones in Delhi. Bangalore
has In2Cable and Zee building HFC networks. On the DSL access front, Dishnet
leads with as many as 11,000 subscribers hooked on to it through DSL in
Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi.
The other area besides broadband that is seeing a lot of
action is long distance. The year 2000-01 was the year of preparation. Ducts
were laid by companies like Reliance Infocom, Bharti Telesonic, and a number
of local service providers throughout the country. An estimated amount of
12,000 route kilometer of OFC has already been laid by all the companies put
together. This excludes the OFC infrastructure of the cellular service
providers. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and parts of
Maharashtra saw major deployment of OFC, along with the metros Delhi and
Though a lot of companies laid ducts for long distance,
only a few have laid fiber and fewer still have decided on equipment. One
exception is Bharti Telesonic, which has already finalised SDH/DWDM
equipment for its network.
The utilities, after planning for a couple of years,
finally went ahead with their plan to build the network. PGCIL floated a
tender to buy Rs 110 crore of SDH and DWDM equipment while GAIL floated one
to buy equipment worth Rs 40 crore. The suppliers are yet to be decided.
International bandwidth is being created by private
players with projects such as i2i cable network, a joint venture between
Singapore Telecom and Bharti Global; and South East Asian Cable Network (SEACN)
by Dishnet DSL. Dishnet DSL will offer a bandwidth of 2.5 Tbps whereas
Bharti Singtel JV will offer 8.4 Tbps.
With new licenses issued to the fixed services providers
and likely to be issued to the fourth service providers, there will be a
number of new service providers. This is likely to create a big market for
the equipment vendors. The fixed service providers together are supposed to
spend an estimated Rs 10,500 crore and the cellular service providers are
likely to spend around Rs 3,300 crore. How much of that is actually decided
this year, remains to be seen. But even if they spend about 25 percent this
year, it is still a huge market.
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) alone is planning to
spend Rs 16,500 crore on equipment purchase. This will go towards switching,
SDH and DWDM equipment, DLC, IS95 CDMA, GSM, and CorDECT systems, and
optical fiber cables. Other new technologies like DSL and broadband access
platforms may also account for a small percentage. BSNL is also likely to go
for network management system this year or early next year. All these
figures are exclusive of MTNL figures.
A lot of companies who have laid duct will blow fiber and
put active equipment. While it is difficult to believe that IP directly over
DWDM will actually happen, most companies are likely to go for SDH. Bharti
Telesonic, Reliance, and the BPL-Tata-Birla consortium, will be the main
Some action is likely to happen in the metro network
front, with broadband aggregation and access management platforms likely to
see the maximum growth.
- Some of the existing fixed service providers are likely to experiment with
VoIP switches and softswitches, but the market is not likely to take-off
100 Equipment Companies
(in Rs Crore)