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.