Survey points out to negative growth in fixed line phone business

Kolkata: The fixed line telephone business in India in 2009-10 saw a negative growth with revenues dropping by 23.3% to Rs18,900 crore from Rs24,649 crore in the corresponding previous fiscal, reports PTI.

The top three fixed line players-BSNL, MTNL and Bharti Airtel-reported a revenue decline.

However, some companies like Reliance Communications (RCom), Tata Tele Services Ltd (TTSL) and Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd (TTML) posted growth in revenues, a recent survey by telecom industry journal 'Voice and Data' revealed.

The International Long Distance (ILD) segment posted a 17.3% growth to earn a revenue of Rs17,600 crore, thanks to a booming subscriber base of almost 600 million.

While Tata Communications (erstwhile VSNL) grew by 12.7%, the growth of RCom and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) was by 4.1% and 4.6% respectively, the survey revealed.

The ILD growth was a result of the Indian telecom operators increasing their presence in foreign markets. This brought in additional ILD revenue for domestic operators. With falling rates there has been a substantial growth in terms of inbound voice traffic into India.

Adding to their challenges is VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) based calling. The big challenge for ILD operators is the growing popularity of formal as well as informal (and illegal) internet telephony operators (for both inbound and outbound internal calls), who bypass the licensed operators.
The National Long Distance (NLD) market, too, bore the brunt of the price war as it recorded a Rs16,400-crore revenue, by posting a 13.6% growth in 2009-10 as compared to a 48% growth in 2008-09, the survey said.

Broadband services posted revenues of Rs9,000 crore recording a growth of 20% over the last year. Both BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) saw 57.3% and 92% growth in their broadband revenues respectively.

The Indian government had in 2004 set a target of 20 million broadband connections in the country by 2010, but, the survey found, the number of broadband subscribers stood at just 8.75 million subscribers.

Here also, the top 30 cities contributed to nearly 60% of all the broadband subscribers.

The only saving grace is the 149.03 million subscribers to wireless telecom services, which recorded a jump of 47.41% in the 12-month period ended December 2009.

The popularity of value added services (VAS), including short messaging service (SMS), ring-tone downloads, cricket scores and also advanced navigation aids and mobile payment features, picked up during 2009-10.

The vast potential of the market kept the VAS providers on their toes to build more India-focused content and services.

The VAS business, fast growing in terms of number of players, is highly competitive leading to wafer thin margins.

And with third generation (3G) coming in, this space is likely to get even more competitive and exciting.



Food inflation down to single digit at 9.67%

New Delhi: Food inflation fell to single digit at 9.67% for the first time this year at a time when the government is facing a concerted opposition attack on rising food and fuel prices.

Inflation fell by 2.80 percentage points for the week ended 17th July from 12.47% in the previous week, on a decline in prices of vegetables, especially potatoes and onions.

Fuel inflation for the week ended 17th July inched up marginally to 14.29% as compared to 14.27% for the previous week. The impact of the government's hike in retail fuel prices last month is still seen to impact the fuel price inflation albeit to a lesser extent.

On a yearly basis, potatoes became cheaper by over 46% and onions by over 10%. Overall vegetable prices fell 14.77%, according to data released by the government today.

However, prices of pulses, milk and fruits rose by 21.23%, 19.03% and 12.14% respectively.

On a weekly basis, prices of onions fell by 0.66%, while that of potatoes inched up by 2.06%.

Overall vegetable prices on a weekly basis went down by 0.34%.

On an annual basis, rice became costlier by 5.31% though it softened by 0.64% on a week-on-week basis.

Similarly, prices of cereals rose by 5.62% on a year-on-year basis, but fell 0.04% week-on-week.

Overall inflation, which includes prices of manufactured goods, was 10.55% in June, led by high food prices.

Food inflation has remained above the 16% level for most part of the year, before falling sharply to below 13% since mid-June.


Govt in talks with UK companies for infra projects

New Delhi: The government is talking with UK-based construction as well as consulting companies to invest in the country's infrastructure projects, reports PTI quoting Union minister of road transport and highways Kamal Nath.

"We are looking at construction companies in Britain and also consultants for investments in India," he said.

The minister, however, refused to divulge the names of the companies saying that there were many of them and he could not name them just then.

Kamal Nath, who was present at the unveiling of the 100,000th machine manufactured by construction equipment maker JCB India Ltd, did not specify the kind of projects these (British) companies would be investing in, as to if they would be road projects or the highway projects, etc.

He also met UK business secretary Vince Cable who also welcomed a series of multi-million pound deals between British and Indian firms.

"We have UK companies operating here in partnership with Indian firms and I would encourage more UK firms to explore the opportunities here," Cable said.

Meanwhile, a London-based architecture firm Benoy has won three major projects in Bangalore and Mumbai worth over £1.6 million in fees.


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