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A CASE OF ALPHA TELENET LIMITED
Alpha Telecom Ltd., a part of Alpha Group was established in 1976 by its visionary Chairman and Managing Director, A. S. Verma. The company started with manufacturing of Electronic Push Button Telephones (EPBT) and Cordless phones in 1985 in Allahabad. On July 7, 1995 Alpha Tele-Ventures Limited was incorporated. A mobile service called 'Web-Tel' was launched in Kochin, which eventually expanded its operations in Andhra Pradesh in 1996.
Till 1994, fixed telephone services were provided by Department of Telecommunications (DoT) which had a monopoly in this business. This was regarded as self-defeating because DoT was a regulator as well as a competitor. With increasing pressure for privatisation, the government agreed to give license to private operators. Finally in December 1996, the bill of privatisation of fixed telephone services was passed. The New Telecom Policy (NTP) with its targets for improving tele-density was an ambitious policy. The NTP planned to achieve a tele-density (number of telephones per 100 people) of 7 by the year 2005 and 15 by the year 2010, which translated into 130 mn lines. The policy also planned an investment of Rs. 4000 billion by the year 2010. The above factors combined with the fact that the domestic long distance telephony was open to private players, led to considerable demand for the company's products. But to get the tenders from Ministry of Telecommunication, Government of India, a license fee was to be paid over a period of 15 years and the viability of telecom projects was also affected by the guidelines that required private operators to earmark at least 10% of their telephone lines for villages. The operating companies did not like the idea of having to pay for the maintenance of lines that might not be used most of the times. The license fee of Maharashtra state was minimum at Rs.643 crores. Thus, Alpha Telenet, a pioneer in every field wanted to avail this opportunity and started the survey for extending the services in Pune. Their marketing survey team provided the statistics of existing customers of DoT, the waiting list of DoT, potential of users for successive years and so on.
Alpha Telenet Ltd. (ATL) decided to start their fixed line telephone operations in technical collaboration with Telecom Italia at Pune in Maharashtra. Initially, they received permission for installing their exchanges covering 0.5 km. of radius which was too small with respect to the cost involved and thus difficult to achieve lucrative returns. After struggling for a year, they finally got permission to set up exchanges covering 1 km. of radius. They set up their exchanges in potential areas in the city. Another problem was that the consumer's mindset fixated was with DoT and they were not ready to accept the services of Alpha Telenet Ltd. This was due to opposite tariff rates for household consumers. Consumers did not rely on ATL as they were private players. ATL initially had attracted the customers from the areas where the waiting line for DoT connections was high. Further, they had provided the connections with wireless CDMA receivers for only Rs. 3000 (movable within the area of 5 km radius) though its actual cost was Rs.15,000. The connection between exchanges by optical fibre ensured high quality of voice and data transmission, which was later to be shifted to the conventional copper wires for consumer connections. The company made the connection using Ring Topology stay connected even in case of line disturbances. They also installed a Submarine Optical Fibre Cable to Singapore with an 8.4 Tbps (terabits per second) capacity providing high-class worldwide connectivity. Alpha Telenet installed the latest Digital Switches from Tiemens and other devices, which were fully compatible with the equipment of other telecom providers in...
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