TCIL has been striving to make India connected through improved telecommunications, its services and bringing new technology. Voice&Data spoke to its CMD A Seshagiri Rao in an exclusive interaction. Excerpts:
Voice&Data: What are the major focus areas of TCIL for the 2019-20 financial year?
A Seshagiri Rao: TCIL continues to leverage innovation in technology and adapting to new age developments to facilitate a future that is both digital and secure.
With our pro-active approach to innovation, the company is at the forefront of its transformation. Telecom is clearly heading towards a data-centric future, which will throw up a completely new set of opportunities and challenges. As most of TCIL’s business comes from Telecom Projects, the growth/opportunities in the Telecom Industry would drive the growth and new project volume for the company. Telecommunications Services has emerged as one of the key drivers of the country’s economy. India is currently the world’s second-largest telecommunications market with a subscriber base of 1200 million and has registered strong growth in the past decade and half. The country is the fourth largest app economy in the world. The Indian mobile economy is growing rapidly and will contribute substantially to India’s Gross Domestic Product.
TCIL is already focusing on new lines of business such as:
• Smart Cities & Smart Application, Homeland security projects and Integrated Private Security Projects.
• Next lines of technology like Carrier Grade Wi-Fi Enabling, next gen voice services with VoLTE, Connecting the IoT Integration with Content etc.
• Cyber Security, Artificial Intelligence, VR/AR, Services and Fiber rollout in Barat Broadband etc.
• Contribute towards Next Generation wireless Services like 5G, VOIP, VOLT, Mobile applications in rural markets.
• Business in Rail segment such as Railway signaling Projects, Video surveillance at Railway Stations, GSM Rollout etc.
Voice&Data: What are the technology trends that you see in the market that TCIL operates in?
A Seshagiri Rao: The Indian Telecom sector continues to thrive amidst dynamic technology trends.
• Rising push to Cashless economy has mobilised the usage of mobile wallets, PoS and mobile banking transactions
• BWA technologies such as WiMAX and LTE are other significant recent developments in wireless communication. India is expected to be the second largest market in 5G services followed by China in the next 10 years
• Green Telecom is one of the emerging technologies to reduce carbon footprint of telecom industry through lower energy consumption. It is also incentivised by Government of India’s National Digital Communication Policy 2018
• The widely emerging concept of Internet of Things electronically interconnects and integrates machines to help in gathering and sharing data. The Indian Government is also planning to develop 100 smart city projects, where IoT would play a vital role in development of those cities
• Artificial intelligence is expected to bring the next shift in technology. AI allows smartphones to perform highly sophisticated functions such as augmented reality, speech recognition and indoor navigation
The country is the fourth largest app economy in the world. The Indian mobile economy is growing rapidly and will contribute substantially to India’s Gross Domestic Product
Voice&Data: Currently what percentage of TCIL’s overall revenue (including its group companies) is coming from overseas business? And what kind of a growth do you foresee in this category?
A Seshagiri Rao: TCIL has achieved a turnover of Rs.16000 Million during the year 2018-19 as compared to the previous year turnover of Rs. 12608 Millions. Out of the total turnover Rs.6190 Million came from overseas business, which sums up to around 39% of the total turnover. The company is geared for exponential growth with its operations in USA, Macedonia and CLMV countries. Voice & Data: Besides telco and service provider networks, what are some of the other projects that TCIL is working on? A Seshagiri Rao: TCIL partners with various State Govts across India on their ICT in Education school projects providing Digital Literacy Skills to more than 2.5 million young students. TCIL is also an expert in developing Smart Virtual Classrooms with digital devices, video conferencing and cloud-based services.
TCIL partnered with India’s premier National Institute of Fashion Technology to set up digital classrooms in 15 of their centres across India. TCIL offers services from concept to commissioning in setting up Smart cities, Homeland security projects and Integrated Private Security. TCIL is in the process of setting up one of the most comprehensive training programmes on cyber security in India. Partnering with some of the best-known US universities, TCIL aims to educate and train nearly 1 million cyber security professionals in India over the next three years. TCIL has been working on ICT in Education projects for more than a decade, providing turnkey solutions for Computer Aided Classrooms, Smart Virtual and Digital Classrooms, Cloud and Video Conferencing solutions. Well into our second phase of the PAN Africa Network Project, TCIL provides Tele Education and Tele Medicine services to 54 African nations connecting African universities and hospitals with Indian universities and super specialty hospitals. The same is being done in the SAARC countries as well.
TCIL has also been carrying out the following civil work in the country:
• Construction of 500 Bedded Hospital & 100 seated Medical Colleges at Tura, Phase-1 for Govt. of Meghalaya, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
• Construction & Development of World HQ Building of Rural Electrification Corporation Limited at Gurgaon in 18580 sq. mts. area of land. The project registered under GRIHA compliance for obtaining the five stars rating for Green Buildings.
• Construction services in Healthcare and Medical sector like Renovation and expansion of ESIC Hospital at Okhla, New Delhi.
• Construction of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya and its additional dormitories in U.P., Uttarakhand, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi.
• Constructions of various Infrastructures work in Bodoland Territorial Council Area in the State of Assam and Nagaland.
• Development and Construction of Tribal Tourism Circuit under Swadesh Darshan Yojana in District of Chhattisgarh Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of Chhattisgarh.
• Development and Construction of Spiritual Circuit in 15 Districts of Uttar
Pradesh (UP), Ministry of Tourism, GOI.
Voice&Data: Can you throw some light on the Orissa Govt Higher Education smart classrooms project that you got recently? What will be the outcomes and what are the deadlines?
A Seshagiri Rao: TCIL has executed Computer Aided Learning and Computer Education Program in several states in the country viz., 1500 schools of the Govt of Uttar Pradesh, 1100 schools of the Govt of Delhi, 600 schools of the Govt of Odisha and 120 schools of the Govt of Jammu & Kashmir. The ICT @Schools programme is the largest govt funded digital literacy program for school students. TCIL partners with the govt of various states to bring digital skills to as many 2.5 million young students in semi urban and rural areas. The digital mode of education will enable expert teachers located in urban areas to impart education to underprivileged students & train teachers in distant/remote villages and areas.
This will further have the following benefits:
• Quality education with the help of modern day ICT infrastructure
• Addressing the issues of shortage of teachers
• Specialised trainings for the teachers on various subjects
• Increase in the enrollments of students, decrease in rate of dropout
• Without the location or time limitations of a traditional classroom, there will be freedom to absorb class content, engage with peers on classroom topics, complete an assignment, or take an exam at a time
• Interestingly enough, online correspondence with the peers and instructor is faster and more helpful than face-to-face conversation on important course topics
• Transforms the teacher-centred and text-bound classrooms into student focused and interactive knowledge environment.
We at TCIL are committed to continue leading the Indian Telecom growth story by capitalising on these major heightening factors and greater focus on formalisation and digitisation of the economy
Voice&Data: What does the MoU with Bluetown of Denmark entail? Can you share some of the plans under that?
A Seshagiri Rao: On 18th January 2019 at Ahmedabad, in the august presence of the Prime Minister of India & the Ambassador of Denmark, TCIL signed an MOU with the Danish company ‘Blue-town’. The MOU aims at providing innovative solutions for rural broadband access using unlicensed spectrum, cost effective IP based technology through a sustainable business model to provide solutions to service provider companies. TCIL is in talks with Blue Town to devise a plan to implement the model in ‘Aspirational districts’ and the North East States.
Voice&Data: What are some of the challenges that you see in the market that TCIL operates in?
A Seshagiri Rao: The Indian telecom sector has charted a growth story that is yet unparalleled anywhere in the world. And yet, despite the burgeoning growth of the telecom sector, its pivotal role for contributing towards the digital economy and the national GDP, the sector continues to be riddled in debt, low cost of returns and massive dearth of funds. There is still need for significant investment for expansion of telecom infrastructure to support our rural penetration ambitions, which has been witnessing an upswing in teledensity from 43.05% (2016) to 59.38% (2019). Alongside, our country is still struggling with download speeds as low as 512 kbps compared to other nations touching 100 mbps due to lack of fixed line penetration and fibre networks. This scenario trickles down to late adoption of 4G/5G and other advanced wireless technologies because our BTS towers are not yet ready and connected with high-speed systems to support these technological advancements. Furthermore, reduced tariffs, low switching costs and price sensitivity has continued to pressurise the Industry revenue table. We are optimistic about riding through this disruption wave and effectively managing the evolution of Digital Telecom in India with increased focus on rural markets, facilitative policy environment and creating networks for the future.
Voice&Data: What according to you will be the biggest drivers of Indian telecom sector growth in the near future?
A Seshagiri Rao: The Indian telecom sector is the second largest telecom network in the world. With over 1.2 billion subscribers, tele-density of 91.82% and 604.2 million internet subscribers at the end of Dec 20183, our growing subscriber base makes us one of the leading data consumers globally. The easy availability and affordability of smartphones with lower rates of data are expected to keep fuelling growth in the sector. Our untapped rural markets also offer humungous scope of increasing rural tele-density, by utilizing the subsidy support from government’s Universal Service Obligation Fund as well. As of January 2019, rural subscribers form 44.10% of total telephone subscribers, compared to 33.35% in FY114. The Government of India has also unveiled the National Digital Communications Policy in September 2018, which aims to attract US$ 100 billion worth of investments and generate 4 million jobs in the sector by 2022. It is supported by relaxed FDI norms by removing the earlier capping of 74% FDI in the telecom sector. India’s growth momentum is likely to accelerate in FY19, with continued focus on infrastructure creation, manufacturing and trickle-down impact of past policy reforms. We at TCIL are committed to continue leading the Indian Telecom growth story by capitalising on these major heightening factors and greater focus on formalisation and digitisation of the economy.
Voice&Data: How much revenue growth is it aiming to achieve over the 2019-20 fiscal?
A Seshagiri Rao: The company is expanding in next lines of technology such as Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics Process Automation, Triple play and G to C services on fibre for State Govts by setting up Experience Centre, Skill Development, Data Security, Cyber Security, Smart Cities, Value added services through Knowledge partners etc with its presence locally as well as abroad. The company has already started its operations in USA, the Balkan and CLMV countries while intensifying operations in the West Asia and Africa. With the plans afoot the company aims and is hopeful at achieving a growth of 19% targeting a turnover of around Rs. 20,000 Million in 2019-20 fiscal.