Tag Archives: telecom

Broadband in India – Praying for better times

(This article, by Pune-based Srinivasa Addepalli is taken from his blog and republished here with permission.)

India has about 7 million broadband subscribers, broadband, which by the way is defined in India at >=256Kbps: just about enough speed to let you experience the new, emerging Internet. The Indian Govt. had declared 2007 as the year of broadband, and a target of 9mn subs was set for the year. Even two years later, we are way behind! Just so you know, China has over 80 million broadband subscribers.

This article is a guest-post by Pune-based Srini Addepalli, head of strategy at Tata Co
This article is a guest-post by Pune-based Srini Addepalli, head of strategy at Tata Co

Why is a nation such as ours, IT superpower and aspiring global superpower, so poor when it comes to broadband penetration?

Very Poor Fixed Line Infrastructure

Most countries that have a high broadband penetration have (a) high wireline penetration, and / or (b) robust cable infrastructure. Simply speaking, if you do not have the basic infrastructure, you cannot provide a superior service such as broadband. Unfortunately for us, neither of these two conditions exist in India.

There are about 37 million fixed lines, of which only about 30% – about 10mn – are even capable of providing broadband. In recent years, there has been almost no investment in increasing and/or improving the quality of fixed line infrastructure. The country has added more than 400million wireless connections in the last 8 years, as against none in the fixed line space. While lack of focus on wireleine by the incumbents, BSNL and MTNL is an important factor, the blame must really be borne by the regulatory and policy regime which has not created an environment to encourage competition (and thereby, investment) in fixed line infrastructure / services in the country. The TRAI had recommended unbundling of the local loop as a step towards limited competition, but as has now almost become a norm, the TRAI recommendations were not accepted by the DoT.

Less said the better about cable infrastructure. It is a highly fragile and completely unregulated cobweb of many thousands of independent networks. It will take an investment of at least Rs 200 billion to upgrade the cable last mile to make it 2-way and broadband capable. Nobody, it appears, is willing to take that challenge up.

No Encouragement to Competition

It is well-recognized that the mobile revolution in India has been driven primarily by competition: at least 6-7 operators across the country. Private operators were licensed years before the incumbents were allowed to enter the mobile market; several steps have been taken towards creating a level playing field for all the licensed mobile operators. On the other hand, in broadband, there is absolutely no policy measure to encourage private operators to enter and compete; this in spite of the fact that none of them have any last mile infrastructure to speak of, and therefore, require considerable support in the initial years.

The incumbents that are riding on public-funded fixed line infrastructure have – in almost a predatory manner – dropped tariffs so much that India has, at the same time, the lowest broadband ARPU and the poorest broadband penetration in the world! Wireless broadband (read 3G & WiMax) is generally expected to become the competitive alternative – but there has simply been no urgency in creating the policy environment to encourage wireless. Spectrum â the essential ingredient to rolling out wireless networks â has not been made available for Broadband; the proposed spectrum auctions have been postponed several times in the last 2 years.

Can something be done to salvage the situation?

Unfortunately, in the short term, I see no option for the customers and private operators. During 2010, the incumbents will strengthen their dominance in the broadband market (for whatever it is worth); private operators will half-heartedly roll out parallel copper / cable networks and will be plagued with quality issues. If spectrum auctions happen in Jan-Feb 2010 as currently envisaged, 3G and WiMax services should become available in most metros towards the second half of the year.

The Broadband market will have to wait till 2011 for true competition, high quality and innovative services – available in all major towns and cities. But the rest of the world will not stay still. Singapore is experimenting with getting 100Mbps to every home by 2012; we hope to get to about 1Mbps in the top 100 towns by then.

Every year, since 2005, I have been hoping that the next year would be the year that broadband becomes widely available in India. I have been proven wrong before; I pray that things change this time around.

About the Author – Srinivasa Addepalli

Srini Addepalli has been dreaming of a Broadband revolution in India for years, in his professional capacity as the head of strategy at Tata Communications and due to his personal enthusiasm for all things technology. You can find him on Twitter here.

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PuneChips Editor’s Blog – Second Edition

First, an update on PuneChips – we now have 5465 members in the Linked In group and over 40 in the Google Groups mailing list. Some folks doing applications work have also joined us. Given that there are 300 or so semiconductor designers in the Pune area, and hundreds more developing applications, we have ways to go.

On Monday, June 29th, we had our second event; a speech by Shrinath Keskar, former M.D. of Ikanos Communications in India. A good cross section of people attended the event and the discussion was quite lively. We had several new faces in the room, a definitive indicator of progress.

We also have our first guest blog written by Chaitanya Rajguru of KPIT Cummins Infosystems, and this is really what we are looking for. I want more people to participate in group discussions and idea generation. Rather than having only just a handful of people writing content, involvement from all is needed if we want to keep growing and have a voice in the development of Pune as a Chip/Embedded design hub.

Shrinath spoke about the challenges of designing chips for the telecom sector. The topic was quite relevant since we have several companies in the area that service Telecom applications. Shrinath not only focused on design challenges which generally revolve around the cost/power/features triangle, but also on challenges offered by the market; telecom standards, time to market and deployment. This was good information for engineers as it explained the logic behind many management decisions.

Telecom standards, both wireline and wireless, drive how telecom companies go about their business. Standards not only have technical, but regulatory challenges associated with them. In addition, there are competing standards that try to solve the same problem (Fig 1) and technical slugfests go on for many years before a winner emerges.

Figure 1: Plethora of Wireless Standards, Source: Nokia
Figure 1: Plethora of Wireless Standards, Source: Nokia

Many a times, the winning standard has such a short window of opportunity that it may be pointless to keep designing to it. Sometimes, governments propose standards in order to get access to advanced technology; China proposed WAPI a few years ago for wireless security. The catch was that anyone trying to sell Telecom equipment in China would have to disclose their technology to a Chinese partner if (emphasis is mine) WAPI had been adopted.

In order to support current and possibly future standards, chips have to be intelligently designed with possibly some redundant I/O, memory and cells which can be used to fix design faults or adapt to changing standards. Figure 2 below shows what a chip designer spends doing day in and out and to Shrinath’s point, there are lots of opportunities available for innovators to improve the design process – innovation does not need to end at the transistor level.

Figure 2: Where a Designer Spends All His Time, Source: Xilinx, 2004

Telecom equipment typically stays in the market for years as telecom standards take a while to roll out due to regulatory or geographical hurdles. However, a chip vendor hardly ever has that kind of time to supply the product. A telecom line card will be generally designed in 9-12 months and the chip must be designed, tested and deployed in the production line card within that timeframe. Time to Market is very important for Telecom OEMs; hence chip vendors must be able to convert design wins into production chips that work.

Deployment is a very important phase in the life of a telecom chip. You can test the product in labs that mimic customer test environments, but you can never test for real situations such as interference from out of spec frequency bands. It is very important to have good support staff on hand to fight these battles alongside customers. Your chip must work in each and every deployment; even a 90% success rate will not cut it.

As Moore’s law comes to the end of life, there is a lot of discussion happening around a new sustainable model for chip startups. The current model, which requires upwards of $50M in VC money to be profitable, cannot live for long. Very likely, the next invention in the semi/EDA market is going to be economic, something that allows new companies to form and prosper.

Abhijit Athavale
PuneChips Editor

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PMI Pune Seminar: Introduction to the Telecom Software Domain

PMI Pune LogoWhat: Monthly meeting of Project Management Institute’s Deccan Pune Chapter, featuring an introduction to the Telecom Software Domain, and an introduction to Six Sigma
When: Saturday, 11 April, 10am to 12:30pm
Where: Pune Shramik Patrakar Sangh, Cummins Auditorium, 193 Navi Peth, Ganjwe Chowk, Near Alka Talkies, Garware bridge
Registration and Fees: This talk is free for all to attend. No registration required

Session 1: Telecom Domain Overview by Utkarsh Kikani

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The session is based on understanding and knowledge that was developed from a vantage point of a software team member of an IT team of a typical Telco enterprise. It is meant to be an overview and introduction to Telecom as a domain or vertical. Telecom by its very nature can become quite a technological or technical subject. However, the current session is approached more from business angle. There will be a bit of technical Talk but that will be kept minimum and only when absolutely essential. A person who is barely familiar with the world of Telecom would have, at the end of an hour, developed a very high level understanding of the domain with some insights in to its evolution, current status and future trends.

Session 1: About the Speaker Utkarsh Kikani

Utkarsh Kikani MCA from Surat, started his career as a C++ programmer around 16 years ago. After first three years initial stint at a small start up in Gujarat moved to then Mahindra British Telecom which is now TechMahindra as Analyst Programmer. Utkarsh had 13 years long association with TechM with assignments with different Telcos – Singapore Telecom, British Telecom, U S West (now Qwest), Cingular Wireless, Rockwell First Point Contact and AT&T – in different roles of Team lead, Technical architect, Business Analyst, Onsite coordinator and Offshore Project manager and Program manager. Recently left TechM for a planned professional break, and currently teaching a course on Telecom Business Management to business management students as visiting faculty.

Session 2: Introduction to Six Sigma and Impact of Variation with Hemant Urdhwareshe

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Six Sigma Approach is implemented by many reputed world class companies. These companies have been benefited immensely in terms of improving their bottom-line, customer satisfaction and waste reduction. The purpose of this presentation is to create awareness about the approach and opportunities. The presentation also includes a simulation of typical manufacturing processes to appreciate impact of variation in various processes on productivity and waste. The simulation also helps understand a strong linkage between Lean and Six Sigma. The presentation will also attempt to illustrate impact of variation in the context of project management

Session 2: About the Speaker Hemant P. Urdhwareshe

Hemant Urdhwareshe is a mechanical engineer from VNIT, Nagpur with post graduate diploma in business management from IMDR, Pune. Hemant director of Institute of Quality & Reliability, comes with a rich experience of 28+ years in Cummins India Limited (CIL). He worked as Sr. General Manager Product Engineering. Hemant is a Master Black Belt (MBB) and has trained more than 300 Black/Green Belts. He has conducted Six Sigma Black Belt/Green Belt programs for several companies along with implementation support and project reviews as MBB. Hemant has also conducted Design for Six Sigma Green Belt Program for Satyam Computers. He has conducted many other workshops in Reliability Basics, Design FMEA, Quality Function Deployment, and Reliability Growth covering more than 500+ participants. Hemant was one of the eminent panelists for Lean Six Sigma Excellence Awards organized by SCMHRD and Sakal. He has published series of articles on Six sigma & related topics in renowned journals & magazines. Recipient of several awards, Hemant is a member of several institutes like American Society for Quality (ASQ) etc.

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