Exclusive Interview – Mr. Samiksh Agarwal

Global Sales & Operations Of  24online
Elitecore, a Sterlite Tech Software Division

1) Give us an overview of Elitecore and what are your strategies to expand 24online presence in the market?

Elitecore, a Sterlite Tech software division, is a global provider of OSS/BSS platform for large telecom operators. As an experienced IP solutions player, Elitecore products are highly responsive to next-generation services, fulfilling operator monetization needs across the access networks. Elitecore has over 150+ network deployments in 52 Service Providers, with presence across 40+ countries.

24online has strong presence in India, Africa and Middle East. We are focused to enhance our partner network and expand our business in these three regions majorly. Apart from this, our business is also growing in Australian market.

Sterlite Tech – Elitecore’s 24online caters to small to large ISPs, Hospitality and Hotspot segments. With more than a decade of experience, 24online has been well accepted as an ideal solution in ISP as Service Management System (SMS) and Hospitality Internet Access (HIA) for Hospitality. With the increasing popularity of wireless technology and public hotspots, we are fast capturing the opportunities in the Hotspot market. The various prominent verticals include Hotels & Resorts, Healthcare units, Education segment, Airports, Shopping malls and Enterprise accounts for visitor Internet Access Management.

2) As you are already aware that India has approximately 462 Million Internet Users? How do you plan to tap this great potential of the ever-growing market?

24online is a comprehensive internet access management solution. It plays a major role in simplifying access network, removing unauthenticated user traffic, optimizing bandwidth, managing users and generating business intelligence reports. With the increasing traffic, demand for internet access management solutions is also growing and we are keen on introducing newer features to overcome the challenges in the growing ISP and Hotspot networks. 24online also supports third party integrations like payment gateways, SMS gateways etc for cashless transactions to purchase and authenticate the internet coupons.

Besides 24online, Sterlite Tech – Elitecore is having other solutions and product range to cater to big MSO networks and Telecom players which serves the larger chuck of internet users.

3) Local ISP’s are Claiming 10 Mbps Speed Up to 100GB & 1Mbps at all times for one month At Throw Away Prices! What is Your Say on This? 

As a business, ISPs are struggling hard to keep up with the increasing competition in terms of faster bandwidth speed at cheaper rates. But lately, ISPs are pulled in different directions and facing challenges in coping up with the demand and supply of bandwidth at cheaper rates. In such cases, 24online has innovative use cases like integrating with bandwidth caching solution. Whenever any data is requested the server fetches the information from the cloud and serves the user. Instead if the cached data is already stored within the network then service providers can serve the frequently accessed information directly from their network at much larger speed. This helps in optimizing the bandwidth, providing faster access speed and managing quality of service.

4) How do you see the overall growth of Broadband Business in India?

As hinted above, internal competition of the ISPs is majorly based on the internet speed and connectivity. Introduction of newer technologies like 4G and seamless Wi-Fi roaming further adds competition from multi-play service providers. The competition has increased calls for ISPs to launch innovative services, identify newer business models and implement best of breed solution which helps them in enhancing their business offering. Although the wireless internet access is more encouraged by consumers, broadband still tops the chart when it comes to fulfil the requirements of the larger markets in India.

5) How do you see India’s cable television’s journey from analogue to digital?

India is now moving speedily towards the digitization and Digital India has added fuel to the overall vision. It is a major transformation for the country to replace the analog cable network to digital network. With the completion of first phase in all major metro cities in 2012, there are several consumers who are using the broadband and cable TV from the same network providers. So innovation and transformation has not only made the life of consumers easy but also enabled service providers to come up with new business models. By the end of fourth phase, it is expected that the hi-tech technology will enable entire India to replace the analogue industry.

6) As we are all aware that the deadline for Phase 4 of Cable TV Digitization is 31st December 2016. What is your say on this? What do you think will be the scenario of the industry post the deadline?

As far as the phase is considered it is expected to be implemented in smaller towns and urban areas, covering each and every TV households. The installation of digital set top box (STB) at all cable households has enormous set of challenges for not only service provider but also for cable operator, advertisers, consumers, TRAI and several other government agencies connected with it. Apart from addressing the challenges, timely installation of STBs is also dependent on the right infrastructure availability, funds available to support the latest technology and revenue sharing billing solutions that helps in simplifying the entire business model.

7) Many Cable Operators are trying to venture into the ISP Business.   What do you think are the latest trends in the Indian market?

With the increasing number of smart devices and demand for access on mobility, new ISPs in the market can majorly focus on creating pocket Wi-Fi hotspots by which broadband subscribers as well as non-ISP subscribers, both can enjoy the seamless access of the network. In addition, the government is also focusing on speedy roll out of Digital India plans to enable Wi-Fi services across the city. With the IT revolution trend in India and the platform of Digital India all major solution providers and service providers are majorly focusing on innovating their solutions and support to the latest demands.  Actually, it is a transformation of a network from Cable TV to Broadband Service Provider to Hotspot provider.

8) What are the major challenges currently industry is facing?

Compared to other countries the major challenge that we are observing in India is the challenge of adaptability of latest technology. Solutions like 24online are designed to support client’s network and ease their operations. Still there are several unmanaged networks which need proper solution to optimize their existing bandwidth. With the increasing malicious activities in internet access network, the result of unmanaged networks can be disastrous. Apart from authentication and clean user traffic, 24online also offer additional revenue generating platforms.

9) Tell us something memorable about your journey so far in this industry?

It is really very interesting and memorable where I can remember the days we used to explain few of our partners how Internet on Cable works when people were using dial up services. They don’t even call it broadband in those days of 1999. Just Internet on Cable. I have given sessions in some industry events to LCOs on Broadband networks management for Authentication, Billing & Bandwidth management.  They used to say that it is a work of ISP and not LCO and we used to tell them that it is your business, if you don’t do then someone else will take over. They finally realised and you can see today where this industry stands. Every big MSO has to come to LCO only for providing services to end users and not ony MSO but even the Telecom players who supply bulk bandwidth to LCO has to mostly go through LCO only to the end user. Its amazing!!

10) You Are a Renowned & Well known Personality? What is Your Advice to the industry?

My simple advice is same what it was years ago. Don’t let the opportunity go. Years back it was broadband and now it’s the time for hotspots. You can create your own hotspots in your areas or may be citywide or country wide based on your service provider license and encash on new business opportunities. One thing to keep in mind is the selection of right products and solutions. Don’t get carried away on saving one time investments selecting the cheap products and damaging your network performance and repo in market and ultimately the business. It takes long time to earn the repo but very short to lose.