Managing the Telecom Business

Today on
the verge of a new millennium, Information Technology (IT) and telecom are the driving
forces of modern economies. If the invention of the “wheel” enabled human beings
to expand the world, IT and telecom have, in a sense, shrunk it. Human civilization has
turned a full circle. While once upon a time our village was our world, now the entire
world is our village. Nations and economies are no longer judged by the amount of land or
money that they hold. Increasingly, the centre of influence is on those nations that
control information and the means by which it is communicated.



National Seminar on Telecom Management
Realizing the need of the hour to groom able telecom
managers who will be of direct utility to the telecom sector, Symbiosis Institute of
Telecom Management (SITM) emphasizes on practical orientation of students. Last year, SITM
organized the first National Seminar on Telecom Management. It kept its focus on telecom
funding, scenario of basic services in India, and future trends and services in the field
of telecom in India.

The commitment is towards the telecom
industry with an aim to help solve some bottlenecks. The students of SITM have teamed up
once again to present the Second National Seminar on Telecom Management. The seminar is
scheduled for 4 and 5 December 1998 to be held at the Holiday Inn, Pune. The topics being
covered this time include:

  • The future trends in telecom
  • Into the next millennium with telecom business
  • Prevailing telecom scenario in India
  • IT and telecom services perspective.

Telecom Reforms and Personnel Demand

In 1994, the process of telecom
liberalization was started. The basic underlying objective was to bring in private
investment for making telecom accessible to all, for technological innovation, and for
better planning and implementation of projects. To achieve these objectives, the
government awarded licences for paging services, cellular services, basic telephone
services, and other value-added services to the private sector; telecom was given
infrastructure status; statutory body–TRAI–was established; ECB limit was raised
from 35 to 50 percent of the project cost; and licence assignability was permitted. The
initiative resulted in an estimated Rs 36,000 crore in investment and teledensity of
metros becoming comparable to the South-East Asian standards, signifying a huge market for
value-added services.

Till the reforms were announced, DoT had
the monopoly of personnel too. However, with newer technologies coming in for both basic
and cellular services (based on CDMA, GSM, DECT, etc.) and with multinational giants such
as Alcatel, AT&T, Motorola, and Hughes establishing their base, there suddenly seemed
a dearth of professionals. Professionals who could understand the industry as well as
being adept at managing companies were lacking–these professionals would be
instrumental in taking telecom to new heights in the future. The lacuna felt by the
industry is owing to the uniqueness of the telecom business vis-a-vis the existing
businesses. Primarily, the hindrance was felt, due to the lack of understanding, of what
exactly the telecom business comprised and the extent to which it differed from other
businesses.

While taking an overview, the telecom
business resembles any other business in the sense that it has various aspects, viz.,
regulations, market, technology, and finance to be managed during the business life cycle.
The main difference lies with the linkages between these aspects of the telecom business,
with the regulatory framework of a country dominating the rest.


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Telecom Business

Regulatory

  • Conditional
    entry

    • Financial
      conditions

    • Licence conditions

    • Performance qualification

  • Clearances
    with nodal agencies

  • Technical
    compliance and acceptance

Technology

  • Understanding
    technology development, penetration, and obsolescence

  • Comparative
    analysis

  • Issues
    in implementation

  • Product/technology
    interfaces

Market

  • Market size and
    its peculiarities

  • Services
    marketing strategy

  • Customer value
    creation through product development

  • Concept
    selling/awareness enhancement

  • Brand
    management

Finance

  • Quantum of
    investment

  • Industry
    linkages

  • Innovative
    techniques

    • Fund raising

    • Revenue generation

  • Capital
    structuring



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The regulatory aspect determines the
targeted market segment, the technology implemented, and the manner in which the funds are
generated. At the same time, the technology implemented and the resources available
determine the target market’s size that a service provider can address. The
regulatory, technological, and financial aspects interplay even during implementation,
e.g., there are multiple agencies from which various clearances have to be obtained. The
method of financing is also heavily dependent upon various political and economic
conditions. Problems such as the mismatch between the projected and actual subscriber
base, the inadequacies of various global standards in Indian conditions, etc. severely
affected the viability of Indian telecom projects. In the end, all these elements run
concurrently through the life of the project and are not one time or incidental
influences. As a result, managing the telecom industry greatly differs from others.

SITM Report

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