This year draws to a close in another 3 days. It would not change anything except for the dates. I call this as perverted optimism because I keep on looking forward for some miracles. It’s truly a make believe fantasy world.
COAI finally mustered up guts and filed a lawsuit against Department of Telecom. As usual, the media was frothing at it’s mouth and made this the headlines. Reliance jumped in the fray and counter challanged DoT with their own version of lawsuits galore. It was free for all till they decided to call it sober down and indulge in some back room dealings. Lawsuits have ceased to make any more news for the time being.
Spectrum is the main cause of the “fights”. I have repeated this ad naseum and it makes no sense to highlight this fact that spectrum is a scarce resource and the way Government is frittering away it’s advantages should call for an open discussion. The fossilised babus are barely going to move their butts and would be happy to gather moss. The only people who are happy about the opacity of the laws are the lawyers.
Broadband is a non starter this year too. Airtel introduced their 8 Mbps plans with some assinine download limits. I believe that this seems to be a marketing strategy in order to create a buzz around their product. All the while, most people who sign up “shockingly fast broadband” (or whatever the ads claim), they would become aware of it’s potential. Which means that word of mouth publicity would get them more customers. I am not sure that this is their marketing strategy. I believe that this is stupidity of the first lot to make the available resources scarce and not catering to the existing pent up demand. In any case, their broadband pricing leaves a lot to be desired. Airtel has the bandwidth and the mojo and the works. Yet, it is staffed by perhaps one of the worst idiots who ever sat on a gold mine.
Tatas made a lot of news and perhaps for the first time they made it to the Asshole of the year on this blog. Congratulations to them on winning this coveted award and here’s hoping that they would keep up this record. They had their intentions set right and I remember reading in Business World about their grand plans to set up metro ethernet and their deals with Cisco. This was one off news and it wasn’t mentioned subsequently. VSNL lost it’s dominance in international distance calling cards and then Reliance gave them a good competition for international landing stations.
Speaking of Reliance, they made news for all the wrong reasons. They got into acquiring Adlabs and then fancied making movies. There was a talk of convergence and “lightening fast” broadband. (Notice the way they describe their pathetic products). So far, there has been NO shaking news about broadband; they are stuck in the 128k era. Ouch! Reliance has not ventured much in landline business and they are holding their cards close to their chest. At best, they set up shadown companies like Swan and Cheetah Telecommunications (what names!) to bid for the telecom licence.
Anil Ambani has been a true “also ran” in the marathon all the while trying to carve out some “niche” for himself. He knows that he is being compared to his elder sibling and when crores of accounted and unaccounted money is at stake, blood is thinner than water indeed. Mukesh was sensible to exit out from telecom and focus instead on retail and gas. It was Anil who still seems to be glamour struck (remember Tina Munim nee’ Ambani?) It shows for him.
HFCL Connect is a small time player along with Spice Communications run by Modis. They seem to have mustered up enough courage to apply for pan India licence and spread their wings. They remain, at best, marginal players and would interest the foreign companies in case they wish to set up shop here in India.
Hutch became Vodafone after protracted legal battle and it was a personal victory for Arun Sarin. However, the change of the name and rebranding has not changed anything with this company. I have been after them to improve the quality of their services but then nothing has changed. As usual.
I had expressed hope that the year 2007 would be the year of Broadband. However, this was not to be. This was more about spectrum wars, legal wranglings et a which I am sick of reporting here again and again. This has also resulted in slowing down of the posts here. I believe that the best news of this year is the announcement of number portability, initially limited to the metros. It would be scaled up at a later date to rest of the country. I hope that with low migration charges, the competition to retain the customers would be intense and it would be the quality of services that would speak for itself.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed.