Surging data demand has opened new avenues of growth for all segments of the telecom value chain. HFCL, a leading optic fibre cable manufacturer in India, is betting big on the country’s data growth and has recently ventured into the Wi-Fi space through new and innovative product launches. In an interview with tele.net, Jitendra Chaudhary, president, HFCL Group, and head of the telecom business unit, talks about the company’s focus areas and recent foray into the Wi-Fi space. Excerpts…
What are HFCL’s key focus areas?
Over the past three decades, HFCL has delivered innovative, customised and competitive products and solutions in the high technology telecom infrastructure sector. The company specialises in the manufacture of telecom equipment, optical fibre cable, and intelligent power systems. Now, with the launch of our IO portfolio, we aim to address the next-generation network requirements by offering advanced Wi-Fi products and solutions in order to offer affordable yet world-class services in India.
What is your view on the surge in data consumption in India? How do you plan to leverage this growth trend?
India is a data-hungry country, as is evident from the growing consumption of data services since Reliance Jio’s entry into the sector. After the successful launch of the IO product portfolio at the India Mobile Congress 2019, our strategy will be on similar lines, that is, to provide our customers with best-in-class Wi-Fi products and solutions at the most competitive prices to gain a majority market share in the country.
Intelligent data connectivity driving last-mile connectivity in India marks the beginning of an era of highly contextualised and personalised experiences that would positively impact every aspect of our daily life. In this realm of evolving dynamics, IO attempts to join the last-mile dots by intelligently connecting everything and everyone via its seamless Wi-Fi networks. An indigenously built Wi-Fi product with global technology, IO is versatile with the potential to propel and bring dramatic change to both urban cities and the farthest regions of India.
Under the IO product portfolio, HFCL is offering a complete wireless solution with Wi-Fi 5- and Wi-Fi 6-based access points, point-to-point and point-to-multipoint unlicensed band radios (UBRs), smart solar-powered PoE+ integrators, wireless LAN controllers, element management systems and cloud-based network management systems. While the entire portfolio of products is designed to be world class and ready to compete with global brands, these have been fully designed, developed and manufactured in India with full IPR ownership residing with HFCL in India. All these products are extremely power efficient and fully compliant with the preferential market access guidelines of the Indian government.
Being a system integrator and telecom infrastructure provider, HFCL comes with significant deployment experience. This will enable us to serve our customers with not only best-in-class products but also with end-to-end ubiquitous services.
What are the key opportunities that you are looking to tap?
On the lines of the government’s vision of Digital India, our focus areas are last-mile connectivity and empowerment of various sectors of the economy. Our key customers will be telcos, ISPs, smart city projects, central and state-funded Wi-Fi projects and government tenders, as well as enterprises (small, medium and large).
What is the company’s roadmap for the next few years, especially with respect to the IO brand?
To start with, the key focus is on the B2B segment, which includes government projects like the Smart Cities Mission, rural last-mile connectivity, central and state-funded tenders, telcos, ISPs, institutions and enterprises that seek complete Wi-Fi infrastructure. We will also engage with SOHO and in-home customers at a later stage.
We have plans to build world-class research and development (R&D) expertise and invest approximately Rs 250 million in the next three years in R&D activities. Our current manufacturing capability is sufficient to meet most of the market demand in India. Depending on how the Indian and global markets evolve in the coming years, we will invest sufficiently to ensure demand is always matched by adequate supply.
Further, we plan to add another 45 resources in our R&D team over the next one year. The aim is to not only provide a conducive environment for young R&D engineers to thrive and grow, but also to build a strong R&D ecosystem and establish a trend of developing full-fledged products in India. Our efforts are expected to create direct employment in terms of our recruits as well as drive contract R&D and the vendor ecosystem to ensure that world-class products come out of India.