Wait to see IPTV explode into the Indian marketplace

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

While Microsoft has been famous for its software on the PCs, the Windows and

the Vistas, it is now equally winning hearts and clients on the mobile space. In

fact, the Redmond-based Giant has crafted a whole division (Communication

Sector) that looks at the emerging opportunities in the telecom domain. To

refurbish its strategy, Microsoft brought on board Martha Béjar, telecom

veteran, as the corporate vice president for the Communications Sector. She was

earlier Nortel's president of Caribbean and Latin America (CALA) regions and was

with the company for over a decade. As India happens to be one of the biggest

markets for telecom, little wonder that Béjar is keen and excited about the

opportunity here. She had recently come down to India and in between scores of

meetings with customers and clients, and sat down, to share Microsoft's take on

the sector and how she believes the movement will pan out. Excerpts


Lets start with 3G first, at the turn of the millennium there was a lot of

euphoria around 3G with licenses being sold in Europe to the tune of billions of

USD, then subsequently it petered out. How do you see the movement to 3G and

onward taking shape globally?

It varies from geography to geography, in certain places it has really taken

off like in South East Asia and Japan, while it continues to lag in others. I

believe that as a whole, we need to do a lot more on that front. Companies need

to ensure that they are working very closely from the seller's perspective, so

it is easier for telcos to put services on top of that. We need to look at the

consumer and come up with services and solutions that are built around his/her

need, rather than offering plain vanilla, one-size-fits-all service. The

solutions and the technology is there, and I think we need to continue very

closely with the regulators to ensure that the pace of change is accelerated. 3G

and mobile broadband holds immense promises for the future.

And how do you see the shift to mobile broadband happening?

I think it will continue growing fast, especially in countries that do not

have a very strong wireline physical infrastructure. As we continue to see a lot

of deployment of these networks and the cost coming down, I think it is going to

be a great way to access very remote locations and continue building

infrastructure. There are lots of efforts going on within the standards keeping

in mind the long-term goals, for instance, the coming of LTE, and 4G and the

banding of CDMA and GSM. Then off course there is the WiMax. There is a lot of

movement in the market. I strongly feel that wireless broadband is going to play

a very strong role, much like wireline. Both will co-exist, as there is no one

size fits all. So, in certain areas it could be wireline and in some wireless


Martha Béjar, corporate vice


communications sector, Microsoft

Microsoft has also been making a lot of noise about IPTV, how has been the

response so far?

Globally, Mediaroom is one of our fastest growing solutions, and by the end

of this year we will have around a million subscribers hot and rocking. The

reception has been incredible and I really do believe that for the service

provider sector,the traditional telcos, this is an incredible opportunity for

them to increase their ARPUs, in additions to their broadband access and data

services. From the response that we have received from our partners like AT&T,

the user response has been too encouraging. Even in India, some of the people

who have tried the service with Reliance are very excited about the potential of

the same. So, I can hardly wait to see IPTV explode into the Indian marketplace

and am very excited about the future.

What exactly is the Communications Sector at Microsoft?

At Microsoft, the communications sector works with service and content

providers around the globe, addressing the specific needs of wireline and

wireless telecommunications companies, cable operators, hosting service

providers, and media and entertainment organizations. We are completely focused

on developing strategic partnerships with communications companies, providing

innovative, software-based solutions and services that help organizations

increase productivity and efficiency, enhance the user experience, and,

ultimately, drive new revenues. I think, Microsoft is strongly positioned to

continually grow into this market with our customers. Currently we have over 600

people in the division and account for around $2 bn in revenues and growing


What is Microsoft's go-to-market strategy? Is it more attuned to the

service providers or are you keen to reach out to the customers?

Both the way we do this, obviously Microsoft has admirable consumer presence

and mind share in every market. We reach out to the customers mostly in a

one-to-one manner. Those customers are also the service provider's customers and

thus Microsoft is best placed to bring it all together from a unified

perspective. For instance, in India when we work with service providers we look

at the opportunities that are from the SMB perspective and work on solutions

that are best suited to their needs.


Internationally, Microsoft has come up with some real innovative models to

reach out to the SME sector, like offering SME services on Sprint's network in

US or introducing Windows Vista-based notebook PCs with built-in mobile

broadband access on a subscription payment model in conjunction with MTS in

Russia. Are you looking at working out similar models in India?

Absolutely, the more I learn about India, the more excited I get about the

things we could do here. Although the models you referred to were different but

the actual structure of the model is not that different. These are models that

we intend to replicate with our service providers in India as well, as they

continue to grow and hopefully sell with us in the coming days. The service

providers or the communications segment is a great channel to market for

Microsoft, just like the PCs are great channel for communications for our

software like Windows, Office, etc. You will hear big news from our front in the

coming days.

What role would the partners and developers play in the communications


Very critical role, we have partners across different sectors, like

communication sector, software sectors, etc. We look at all the partners we have

and evaluate the ones that are strongest in the sector or could be in the coming

times, those are the ones that we work closely from a communication sector

perspective. They are trained and certified for the solutions we offer. They are

hand-in-hand with us on all our offerings. We make sure that they are trained

and certified and they have the best in class resources and up-to-date on what

we are trying to do. We also have a lot of partner programs where they give us

feedback. As far as the developer community goes, it is at the very core of the

ecosystem and we rely on them. It is no secret that the big model has been

renting IP as opposed to creating IP for developers as partners. Many of the

things that we are talking give them the opportunity to work on a great idea,

that's where our hosted service comes into play.

Shashwat DC