Acterna changed its focus from a Test & Measurement
(T&M) company to a Test & Management one, it found there
was a lot more to offer, in terms of services. It believes
there is a big opportunity for T&M companies who follow
its example. Vishnu K Goel, Managing Director-India
& Director-South Asia Pacific, Acterna India Pvt Ltd,
updates us on the Indian Test & Measurement market,
and his company's plans. by Gaurav Patra
What is Acterna's business
strategy in India?
We are into communications Test & Measurement (T&M).
Within communications T&M, we are addressing the
five verticalsoptical, cable networks, data IP,
access and wireless. If I had to state the order of
priority of positioning for Acterna, I would say optical,
access and IP. These three are our major thrust areas.
Sometime back we were mainly
doing the business of boxes in the test & measurement
space. Then we started focusing our energy on positioning
this company differentlywe wanted to be more than
a test and measurement company. We repositioned Test
& Measurement to Test & Management. In fact,
we are repositioning the industry as Test & Management.
While test and measurement
is related to measurement of the boxes, management covers
a whole range of software, services and support wrapped
around the basic box. We had announced this concept
in last year's Supercomm. We got a very encouraging
response from our customers on this concept.
What are the products and
solutions you have for the IP space?
In IP we are catering to all kinds of IP networks, for
the Internet, Frame Relay or Ethernet. We have a range
of products for this segment. We are trying to address
all the IP layers, starting from physical right up to
optical. The Physical Layer is being taken care of by
optical instrumentation. As you move up from Layer 2
to Layer 7, we have different products, which can manage
the entire network. In the days to come, IP is going
to be our main focus area.
How important is T&M
to Indian service providers?
If you compare globally, the cost of T&M equipment
is generally five to seven percent of the total network
cost. In India, our assessment is that companies do
not spend even 0.1 percent on T&M equipment. So,
there is 50 times more opportunity for T&M players
Service providers should no
longer consider T&M investment as expenditure. Rather,
it is an investment in the true sense. It is going to
ensure the quality of their network. And, because the
quality of the network will be good, the productivity
and ultimate profitability of their network will be
directly dependent. I believe the T&M investment
is a very strategic investment and service providers
should realize the importance of T&M, to provide
world-class services to their customers. Based on our
understanding and on what we have seen in the past,
we believe quality is going to be the key for the service
providers, not technology or pricing.
What trends and opportunities
do you foresee in this segment?
There are two or three trends that are happening right
now. Because of the deregulation of the telecom industry,
the number of operators is increasing everyday. Secondly,
there is more emphasis on tele-density. This means,
when we have more tele-density, we need to have carriers
that can carry more bandwidth. So, broadband will be
The third trend is that because
of the continuous emphasis on the quality of services,
the expectation of the subscribers and the operators
are changing. So, deregulation, bandwidth and quality
of services are the basic drivers. When you have these
as the basic drivers, this will pave the way for the
growth of optical networks that can carry more bandwidth.
And, here there is lots more opportunity for the T&M
players. Also quality of services is going to be the
mantra for the success of business.
There is a great need in terms
of offering high value-add services to telecom companies.
There is a huge opportunity to provide such kind of
services to someone who is really oriented towards that
quality of service provisions to its potential customers.
So, the service providers should invest in areas where
they can see the importance from business objectives.
Then this industry will have a real bright future. It
is unfortunate that none in the T&M industry have
driven the cause.
How is the Indian T&M
Traditionally in India, the T&M companies are totally
dependent on the government type of projects. And the
process of buying bulk and multiple number of products
is very relevant. Because of the bidding you drop the
price so low that in most cases it is not that profitable.
Of late, this trend has gone through lots of changes.
After the corporatization of BSNL, the buying process
also has undergone some changes and the requirement
is now also rationalized from their point of view.
And basically we have seen
that T&M companies are losing money heavily in serving
that market. I believe that market can be served by
all kinds of vendors who have not as much regard to
the quality of the product. So, that has been a loss-making
proposition for most of the companies.
I believe, where telecom T&M
will be growing hopefully, are with those operators
who are new, challenging the government operators and
who are clearly considering T&M as an investment
and not merely as an expenditure.
T&M should be considered
as a key business tool. I am afraid till today, in our
country, we have not seen anybody making use of this
investment from that direction. This is happening because
most of these T&M players were not able to communicate
the strategic importance of T&M to all these telecom
service providers. So, the responsibility lies with
us, the T&M equipment vendors. And, this is what
we are trying to do at Acterna. We believe T&M has
to be seen as a strategic investment to fulfill their
customer oriented objectives, which is quality of services,
retaining customers, etc. So, if the service providers
see investment in that light, then I can see a huge
opportunity for T&M industry.
How are you different from
The major differentiator is that we are into test and
management and not just test & measurement. We offer
services here in sync with global roll outs. And in
India we have the advantage of exploiting our global
experience and local expertise to cash in on those markets.
As a smaller player in terms of hardware, we believe
that we are better positioned. While the other big T&M
players have got a plethora of products, and are present
in almost all the market segments, we are totally dedicated
to the communication niche of the industry. And when
you are a niche player, your energy, focus, and your
ability to provide solutions, which can add real value
to your customer, is pretty high. We are very focused
in the communications market, so we can offer more solutions
in that limited space, which is about 20 - 25 percent
of the whole industry. We want to consider ourselves
as a smaller company that is willing to work hard through
our skills and domain expertise in test & management.
What are your future plans?
Our whole focus is to grow our professional T&M
consulting services and make all the Telecom companies
aware of the importance of Quality of Service. In the
days to come, we will be concentrating more on the service
front. Our Global Services & Solutions (GSS) Division
is driving this program. Our mission is to advance communications
with innovative test and management solutions that drive
customers' business to new levels. This year we are
expecting an 80-100 percent growth.
Gaurav Patra can be reached at: