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“We are taking our India lessons outside�

Simon Beresford-Wylie, Chief Executive Officer of the world’s second-largest mobile equipment vendor, Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), is a veteran of the Indian telecom market. Over 14 years ago, he played a crucial role in establishing India’s first mobile network, Modi-Telstra, in Kolkata. Years later, he has returned to India, making the country the service delivery hub for NSN worldwide with over 20,000 employees. He spoke to BT’s Kushan Mitra.

Kushan Mitra | Print Edition: May 17, 2009

Simon Beresford-Wylie, Chief Executive Officer of the world’s second-largest mobile equipment vendor, Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), is a veteran of the Indian telecom market. Over 14 years ago, he played a crucial role in establishing India’s first mobile network, Modi-Telstra, in Kolkata. Years later, he has returned to India, making the country the service delivery hub for NSN worldwide with over 20,000 employees. He spoke to BT’s Kushan Mitra. Excerpts:

It must be interesting to look back to the day when you first came to India and compare it with what you see today.
When I arrived here in 1995, we had set ourselves a target of getting 100 customers per day in Modi Telstra. We could, however, meet that target only for one day. By the time I left in 1998, their subscriber base had gone up to about 30,000, or by about 10,000 a year. The total subscriber base in India then was around a million-and-a-half, if I am correct. By 2000, it had leapt to five million. Now one sees the subscriber numbers grow at 8-10 million every month. While I’m no longer startled by it, I think it is important that more Indians have access to a device that is changing their lives for the better.

You have increasingly moved your global services delivery for operators to India. What do you think Indian operators will demand from you?
Indian operators work very efficiently simply because of the volume of minutes they consume and the revenues that they get. It is an extremely tight market in terms of the competition and a challenging one in terms of the revenues generated. It forces operators to innovate in the way they look at their business. One part of that innovation has meant they work far more closely with their suppliers such as NSN to help them find efficiencies. We deploy over 5,000 base stations a month in India and have over 120,000 base stations under management. We will continue to do this. But the lessons that we are imbibing in India, thanks to all the operators forcing us to innovate, is standing us in good stead. We are taking these learnings outside as well. This is why we took the decision to make India our services hub in 2007. 

NSN Facts

  • India (Noida) is the global services hub for NSN

  • NSN employs over 20,000 people in India

  • It manages over 120,000 telecom base stations in the country

  • Its 2008 revenues were e13.4 billion or about Rs 87,000 crore

It has been two years since the $32-billion merger between Nokia Networks and Siemens Communications. What has the progress been like?
While e-mails and related services are doing well, I think we still need to iron out some issues as far as IT is concerned. There is some way to go in integrating our ordering systems but you have to understand that it is a gigantic rollout to migrate product codes. If you were to go out and ask employees whether they “feel” like one company, I think that the overwhelming answer will be “yes”, which is a great thing. Also, we have captured the synergies that we set out to capture. We have m2 billion in savings. We had planned to save a billion and a half by 2010 and we already have more in the bank.

Have there been other benefits?

Business has moved from finding new countries and planting a flag to working within the installed base and selling them services. We have moved over the past two years from being a pure products company towards services and today services accounts for close to 40 per cent of our revenues. India plays a major role in getting those revenues thanks to our Global Service Delivery from hubs like the one in Noida.

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