Aircel is the fastest growing telecom service provider in India. Currently, it is operating services in nine states and is the market leader in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Assam and North-East. Rohit Chandra, Executive Director of Aircel, has played an important role in the success of Aircel and has been associated with Aircel since the company was controlled by C. Sivasankaran (Now 74% of it is owned by Malaysia-based Maxis). Armed with the responsibility of expanding its operations beyond Chennai and Tamil Nadu circles, he has helped create Aircel’s operations from scratch in North and East India. Prior to joining Aircel, he had a 5 years successful stint at Ericsson India Private Limited as Executive Vice President & Head (Marketing & Technical Solutions) for Market Unit (India and Sri Lanka). In an interview with TelecomTiger, he talks about the role of Aircel in the new telecom scenario that is emerging in the country.
Q: What is the status of Aircel services in India?
A: Aircel is currently providing services in nine telecom circles out of Twenty-three. We are set to launch operations in Kolkatta by the second quarter of this year. This will complete our footprint in Eastern India. Currently, we have a subscriber base of 10.6 million. We are the fastest growing mobile operator in the country.
As far as quality of services is concerned, various research organizations/publications have rated us very highly in their consumer surveys. For example, IDC has rated us as the best telecom operator in its consumer survey. Tele.net has awarded Aircel with the best regional operator. Voice and data has given us the highest rating for overall customer satisfaction and network quality. We are above TRAI guidelines on quality of services and in billing, we have got the highest score as per the Voice & Data Survey.. Moreover, we have improved upon compared to last year’s performance figures.
Q: Indian telecom market will soon be flooded with a number of operators. In some of the states, there will be up to 10 service providers. In such a scenario, what will be your strategy?
A: Aircel has been one of the fastest growing operators in India. In most of the markets 6 to 7 operators are already present. I think, we will do our basics right and we welcome competition. The very fact that we are top on every customer satisfactory survey tells about our quality and consumer focus.
Q: When will you launch services all over the country?
A: We have already started activities pertaining to rolling out networks in new circles for which we got spectrum. In next 12 to 24 months, we will cover most of the new geographies
Q: Most of the operators have separated their infrastructure divisions into separate companies. What are your plans?
A: We currently have got 8,000 sites out of which 7,000 sites belong to us. We are also constructing 5,000 sites of our own in addition to sharing and leasing of sites. We are exploring various options and also studying what is happening around us.
Q: What are your plans to enter 3G services?
A: What we can say at present is that we are waiting for the policy to be finalized by the government. Once this is done, we will decide upon our plans.
Q: What about WiMAX?
A: We are currently operating WiMAX in 31 cities and its response is very good. We are one of the earliest WiMAX service provider in the country.
Q: What is the status of long distance services?
A: We have already launched national long distance (NLD) services. We will soon launch our International Long Distance (ILD) services subject to various government approvals.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: We have got spectrum for 13 new circles and are poised to become a pan India operator. During this year, we will double our network size and by the end of 2008, we will have more than 16,000 BTS in our network.
On the Telecom Network side, we work with Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks.
We have also awarded a contract for strategic outsourcing of IT. This is a complete business transformation project where we are scaling up all new operations pertaining to billing, provisioning mediation, interconnect and CRM. We will also deploy a service delivery platform. This is a long term engagement which runs over nine years.