Alcatel-Lucent is looking to make up for its dismal performance in the Indian 3G equipment market by capturing a significant share in the country’s much-anticipated market for infrastructure.
AlcaLu’s India business failed to snare any 3G infrastructure business following the auction of spectrum held in May 2010, which in turn lead to a cutthroat race to land initial 3G network deals. But the award of 3G licenses was immediately followed by the auction of Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum in the 2.3GHz band that is suitable for the deployment of WiMax and LTE TDD networks. And with the key BWA license-holders looking likely to opt for LTE TDD rollouts – both Qualcomm Inc. and Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) have committed to the technology – AlcaLu, which has been gearing up to capitalize on early demand for TDD LTE systems, fancies its chances of regaining some wireless infrastructure bragging rights.
Munish Seth, country head at Alcatel-Lucent India, says the vendor is already involved in a number of trials in India. TDD LTE “is going to be a big market this year [in India] because most of the operators are looking at rolling out at the earliest. We are talking to all the operators and we are looking at selling the value proposition,” says Seth. AlcaLu is hoping some of its experience and success in the global FDD LTE market, where it has amassed seven commercial deals, will help it in India.
The vendor is, along with Ericsson AB, a supplier of FDD LTE technology at Verizon Wireless, the world’s single largest LTE deployment to date, and “we would be creating an end-to-end ecosystem. We might not be supplying all the parts, but we will tie up the whole piece together,” says Seth.
The company is likely to face stiff competition from Ericsson, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Nokia Siemens Networks, which are also gunning to get a major share of India’s LTE TDD market. And AlcaLu is hoping that its efforts to pull together an end-to-end package, along with its broader LTE experience, will help it win business, as it’s not in looking to see off its rivals with margin-crushing tenders. Key to Seth’s business strategy is the decision “not to indulge in a price war” – and it could be that strategy that left it without any 3G spoils. But AlcaLu will need to pick its plays carefully, as India is a very price-sensitive market, and it may be that AlcaLu’s unwillingness to go below a certain price point could leave it empty-handed once again.
But despite the 3G market disappointment, Seth says AlcaLu still managed to grow its year-on-year revenues in India by 100 percent in 2010. “Two of the biggest operator backbones, both in IP and optics, are running on our technology. Last year we had a strong growth in IP, optics, routing and services,” says Seth.
Gagandeep Kaur, India Editor, Light Reading