Segment Analysis: KTS-EPABX

The market continued its steady growth. And the prices kept dropping.

T he EPABX market can be divided into two segments–the
volumes market and the high-end, value-driven market. While the first treats PBX
as a mere calls-transfer device with no urge to use its other capabilities, the
latter looks at it as a convergence device–the centre of all voice, data, and
video traffic in an enterprise. The former market is dominated by a host of
small indigenous players (both in the organized and unorganized sectors)
manufacturing a host of low-cost systems,
the latter by technology-driven big and multinational companies. Interestingly,
the year 1999 also saw EPABX companies
identifying homes as an important market segment.

Market Size

The EPABX market more or less grew around expected lines
during 1999-00. Valued at around Rs 310 crores, it grew by 19.23 percent over
the 1998-99 figures of Rs 260 crores. In terms of number of lines, about seven
lakh ports were sold during this period covering all the segments.

50 percent of the market is dominated by low-end PBX systems.
The middle-end products account for 20 percent of the market, while high-end
PBXs have a 30 percent share. This means that if the size of the market is taken
to be seven lakh lines, then low-end would be 3,50,000, middle-end would be
1,40,000 and upper-end would be 2,10,000.

However, in terms of value, the high-end EPABXs accounted for
45 percent of the market netting Rs 140 crore. The low-end market did a business
of Rs 58 crore ( 19 percent), while the medium-end was valued at Rs 112 crore
(36 percent)

The market size of KTS last year was estimated to be around
Rs 140 crore, a 25 percent growth over the 1998-99 figures of Rs 112 crore. In
terms of numbers this accounted for some 1.3 lakh units. The per unit price of
these systems ranged from
Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000.

Prices

The average price per port fell by 10-12  percent during
1999-00. There was nothing unusual about this as prices have been
coming down since 1995 owing to intense competition and lowering of import
duties on EPABXs. However, the prices of high-end PBXs have more or less
stabilized and in cases have even shown an upward trend. This is because vendors
have been constantly adding new and more advanced features to these systems.

Drivers

  • The urge and demand for more switches in enterprises for
    customer support services.

  • The addition of 45.4 lakh DELs by DoT and 3.76 lines by
    MTNL.

  • The net switching capacity increased by 69.95 lakh
    (including MTNL’s 4.15 lakh) lines.

  • Spread of ISDN connections to new areas and the entry of
    fixed service providers like Bharti Telnet, Hughes Ispat (name changed to
    Hughes Tele.Com) and Tata Teleservices.

  • The growth in the IT and IT-enabled services (an
    estimated 30 percent).

  • Increase in both captive and third party call centre
    business (around 40 percent).

  • The ISP segment.

Trends

Convergence was the buzzword in the high-end enterprise
market. Even as switches became IP-enabled, EPABX systems were positioned as the
centre of all types of communications in the enterprise. However, there remained
a wide gap between the availability of this converged technology and its actual
application. For the majority they remained voice switches. A major portion (70
percent) of the market remained biased towards pure voice switches.

Expansion of ISDN network in the country was a boon to
digital systems. Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) was
identified as a promising technology and one of the significant market
drivers.

The Highlights
Market Size (KTS):
Rs 140 crore
Growth: 25 percent
Average price per unit: Rs 10,000-15,000
Market Size (EPABX):
Rs 310 crore
Growth: 19.23 percent
Average price per port (low-end): Rs 2,000
Average price per port (high-end): Rs 4,500

The Indian customers are not yet ready to invest in systems
with fancy or high-end features. They still look for switches for their basic
voice switching needs and are not swayed by expensive voice-data-video carrier
switches. They are vigilant enough to acknowledge the rapidly changing nature of
technology. VoIP/ADSL/DECT would be sought after features once these are
supported by a more efficient and powerful telecom backbone in the country.

While Tata Telecom leads the high-end of the market, the lower-end is
dominated by a number of small players like Accord, Lucky, Gold Star, Matrix,
and Syntel.
Other significant players in the PBX market were Nortel, Lucent, BPL, Alcatel,
and Usha Informatics. Enkay and National Panasonic were the significant players
in the KTS segment followed by BPL, Nortel, Samsung, Siemens, LG, and Tata
Telecom.

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