Nepal Telecom and Hong Kong-headquartered China Telecom Global has connected each other across Nepal’s northern border with Tibet through a mix of underground and all-dielectric self-supporting (ADSS) optical fiber cable network. Activation of this link on January 12, 2018 has ended the exclusivity of Tata’s and Bharti Airtel’s international connectivity to the landlocked Himalayan state. Now Nepal can procure IP-transit, interconnection bandwidth, international leased circuits and cloud services at highly competitive rates from Asia’s one of the two carrier-neutral hubs at Hong Kong (Singapore is the other one). Nepal has reportedly activated only 1.5 Gbps through the Chinese carrier, due to technical constrains of the ADSS link.
India is the point of transit for every submarine cable connecting Asia with Africa and Europe via Middle East. Altogether 19 submarine cables have landed in five different Indian locations: Mumbai (11 cables), Chennai (4 cables), Cochin (2 cables), Trivandrum (1 cable) and Tuticorine (1 cable). These sparsely located landing points are good enough to make India the home of a highly resilient international connectivity. Early this week Cyclone Vardah has, however, exposed India’s, notably of Bharti Airtel’s, fragility instead. Bharti Airtel has stakes in five submarine cable networks: i2i, SEA-ME-WE 4, EIG, I-ME-WE and AAG.
Myanmar is the rising star in global telecoms market and anything new hits the headlines. Bharti Airtel’s claim of activating a terrestrial optical fiber cable link between India and Myanmar is one such example. An undisclosed sum has been reportedly invested in a 6,500rkm (route km) terrestrial link. It will be connected to Airtel’s landing stations in Chennai and Mumbai. Ajay Chitkara, the company’s director & CEO (global voice & data business) told the Economic Times: ‘The terrestrial cable link is a strategic fibre asset for Airtel in the SAARC region, which will enable the company to offer robust end-to-end connectivity solutions in Myanmar, which is seeing rapid uptake of digital services as one of the last growth frontiers in Asia.
The headline said that Bharti Airtel has now reached the exalted status of having the third largest number of mobile customers worldwide, after China Mobile and Vodafone Group. But as the writer concludes, the real challenge is going to be how new business models can be implemented to make Internet access as successful as voice access. As Reliance Jio gets set to roll out a data-first network, only the networks that successfully implement a new business model that are likely to survive and prosper. He said the next phase of the company’s growth would be led by mobile internet. “This will again be a transformational phase and we have the opportunity to work with disruptive models and technologies and add value to the lives of our customers in an even more meaningful way,” he said.
All submarine cables connecting the Far East with Europe and Africa transit at India. It has made 12 submarine cables (six owned by consortiums and six privately-owned) hopping into 10 cable landing stations (CLS) at the Indian seashore. Voice and data traffic of 27 international long distance operators (ILDO) are processed through the 10 CLS. Four (Tata, Airtel, Reliance and BSNL) out of the 27 ILD providers own respective CLS in India. The ILDOs who don’t own CLS told TRAI that Tata Communication and Bharti Airtel together enjoy a 93% market share.
Bharti Airtel and China Telecom have lit a 40-Gbps underground fiber network linking respective country. It runs across the Nathula border between Siliguri (India) and Yadong (China). It promises customers transiting India or China to reach global destinations the shortest route between the two countries. The link also provides Bharti’s Indian customers with a third option for international connectivity and an alternative to its existing submarine cable connections in Chennai and Mumbai. Bharti said its Sino-Indian network is “built on highly resilient ring infrastructure will offer unparalleled diversity and reach to the region Terrestrial network to offer alternate and shortest route between India and China alongside existing Subsea routes.
We have been talking about the Budget Telecom Network Model for sometime. But as the Economist points out, the story is bigger than just telecom. South Asian innovation, driven by the need to sell to poor people, may remake the economic landscape in rich countries too. Most strikingly, Indian companies have produced a new type of innovation, variously dubbed “frugal”, “reverse” and “Gandhian”. The essence is to reduce the price of a product or service by a breathtaking amount—80% rather than 10%—by removing unnecessary bells and whistles.
One way business models and innovations travel is through mergers and acquisitions. We have been waiting to see more African consumers benefit from the low prices and greater connectivity afforded by the Budget Telecom Network Model. Finally it looks like a big Indian telecom operator has got a foothold in Africa, with the transfer of Zain equity in a number of African countries to Bharti Airtel. Zain has fared badly in Africa along with other Middle Eastern operators perhaps because their home turf has been heavily regulated. Most acted as comfortable monopolists until only recently.
One of the more exciting things we have been talking about in the last little while is the budget telecom network business model being implemented in South Asia. We have seen it spread to Nepal, but the big question was when and how it would get to Africa. If Bharti and MTN merge, we can be sure the model will spread. An update.
It looks pretty simple. Incoming free. Outgoing Rs. 2 per minute (to any phone) Local SMS Rs. 1.
The question most who phoned our office last week asked was: When Bharti Airtel will start its Sri Lanka operations? We have no clue why they assumed LIRNEasia is linked to the Indian telco that plans to launch its operation in Sri Lanka shortly. So our polite answer was: Sorry, we do not know and we do not have Bharti Airtel phone number. The website www.airtel.
The roll-out plans of new mobile players could be dampened with some of the existing pan-Indian operators demanding higher rates for providing interconnection. This includes higher termination rates (levied for ending calls from a new operator’s subscriber to an incumbent player’s network) and port charges (for accepting traffic from a new player to an existing network). Incumbent operators such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone are at an advantageous position because they have a large subscriber base and, therefore, it is necessary for the new players to interconnect. If the new operators do not interconnect with them then their subscribers will not be able to call users on the incumbent player’s network. “The interconnection charges being imposed by the existing players are based on the telecom regulator’s order issued in 2003.
Leading telecom operator Bharti Airtel will launch operations in Sri Lanka in December, a top official announced on Monday. “We will roll out the services next month as all formalities are done and issues relating to inter-connectivity have been sorted out,” Bharti Enterprises vice-chairman and managing director Rajan Mittal told reporters in New Delhi. The telecom giant had been facing problems of inter-connection, with local carriers not willing to give inter-connections to the company. Source: Hindustan Times, Nov 04
Telecom major Bharti Airtel on Thursday launched a Rs 200-crore (about US$ 40 million) innovation fund for promoting entrepreneurship in the telecom sector. The objective of the fund is to provide opportunities to the entrepreneurs to undertake innovation in the field of telecom with regard to content, software and technologies, Bharti Airtel Joint MD and CEO Manoj Kohli told reporters. This is the first ever telecom innovation fund in the country, he said. Source: The Economics Times
Telecom major Bharti Airtel today said the company hopes to start operations in Sri Lanka within this calendar year, despite the delay in getting interconnection from the local operators there. “Discussions are going on with the Sri Lankan telecom regulator and the existing operators there relating to the interconnection issue. It should be sorted out shortly,” company’s CEO Manoj Kohli told reporters here. “We should be in a position to start our operations there before 2008. It is as per our schedule,” he said.
Indian mobile telecoms firms added 9.2 million users in July, taking subscribers in the world’s fastest growing wireless market to nearly 300 million, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said on Monday. Leading mobile firm Bharti Airtel signed up 2.7 million customers, enough for it to overtake state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd as India’s largest telecom firm by total subscribers, including fixed-line subscribers. Second-ranked mobile firm Reliance Communications added 1.