In my blog dated 6th June 2005 NEXT REVOLUTION IS BROADBAND, I predicted that Reliance would lead a broadband revolution. In my OPEN LETTER TO MR. ANIL AMBANI dated May 27, 2005, I predicted that data revenue would surpass voice revenue and Reliance Infocomm’s optic fibre infrastructure is a potential gold mine. Mukesh Ambani’s big bang entry into broadband reconfirms – Broadband is the next revolution and RIL will lead that. Fight between Ambani brothers delayed it by 5 years but now the time has come!!
RIL has bid around Rs. 13000 crores for all India broadband spectrum. My back of the envelop calculation suggest that India’s broadband penetration needs to increase 8 fold in the next 3 years for RIL to break even.
Sr. Ambani would again try to create a “Monsoon Hungama” kind of Hungama and this time wireless broadband launch would be a ‘big bang’ launch. It might take him 12 months to source the equipment etc. They might leverage Reliance Retail network to reach the maximum number of customers.
RIL would expect atleast 30% of its revenue to come from corporate clients and RIL is really good at this. For the first 12-18 months they might focus only on corporate clients and high pay capacity circles like Mumbai and Delhi.
The real challenge is to launch broadband in the interiors of India. The wireless technology is a big enabler, however RIL need to get the decentralized customer focused mindset for that, which till date have proved illusive for RIL.
If RIL is able to get it right this time, it would be no less than a revolution. Interiors of India although today connected by mobile phones are still not great in terms of connectivity of roads, rails etc. Unlike many other developed country, India has the advantage of high density of population which brings down the per capita capital cost of broadband and makes the operation very economical. Secondly, like in mobile revolution India again has the opportunity of skipping 2-3 stages of development in broadband infrastructure and directly moves to the latest technology.
India suffers from grave disparity in land prices, salaries, opportunities due to lack of connectivity infrastructure (like rail, air transport, roads etc). Broadband revolution can change all that. It can improve governance, education, information flow. It can also cure some of ‘constrains to growth’ created by lack of transport and other infrastructure. IT/BPO revolution which is limited to cities till today can move to town and villages. The possibilities are endless. Online shopping, gaming, education, services….. Size of the market will increase and it would be easier to target ‘able to pay’ customers in the hinderland who are today uneconomical to reach due to small size.
Sunil Mittal once mentioned that telecom is like packman. It keeps eating various businesses and growing. Broadband is one such packman it will eat many businesses like retail, banking, transportation, entertainment etc. Broadband revolution, if implemented well, has the capability of pushing India into high growth trajectory which will help it bridge the gap between developed and developing nations. All the best Mukeshbhai! We wish you all the success!!