Thursday, June 1, 2006

He was the second employee in Nokia?s mobile division, when few imagined Indian telecom would do so well. From marketing manager in 1995? after stints with Pepsico and Reckitt Benckiser ? to managing director of Nokia India, Sanjeev Sharma has played a pivotal role in ensuring the Finish company?s domination in the marketplace. Sharma, who declined to shift to Singapore for a larger role in Nokia because he thought ?India is were the action is? will bid the company adieu on June 30. He talks to Business Standard about what needs to be done to address the Indian market. Excerpts:

The next growth area for mobile operators is obviously the rural market. What are the challenges?

Clearly, the main potential is in the rural areas, since urban density of mobile phones is very high in cities like Delhi and Mumbai ? over 40 per cent ? while rural density is merely 2 per cent. The challenge is how do we do so cost-effectively since the conventional western model will not suffice.

The first challenge is to adapt the distribution channel to meet the rural challenge. Nokia, for instance, is working with operators to jointly address the market and share the cost. There is a need to develop credit which is best developed by companies coming together to get critical mass.

The second challenge is to reduce the total cost of ownership. Today companies are looking at cell sites which won?t require air-conditioning, stripped-down base stations and, of course, infrastructure sharing. Technologies like adaptive multiple rate can increase the capacity of the network by 30 to 40 per cent.

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Source: The Business Standard (link opens in a new window)