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Vodafone Launches Wireline Services For Businesses; Airtel Partnership?


By Brindaalakshmi K & Nikhil Pahwa

So Vodafone India is getting to the wireline services business – Vodafone Business Services (VBS), the enterprise arm of Vodafone India, has entered the wireline segment in the country, by launching wireline services for businesses. It plans to offer this to enterprises along with its mobility and M2M (Machine-to-machine) solutions.

What’s interesting is that Vodafone claims to have a wireline infrastructure that includes 120,000 kms of fibre backbone, over 350 PoPs across 130 cities. Wireline services are a tiny fraction of Vodafone India’s revenues, and less than 5% of its India topline, and Vodafone didn’t report any revenues from the Fixed Line business in the previous quarter:


Airtel Partnership?

This announcement comes at a time when the 2G spectrum auction in India abysmally low, the telecom ecosystem is emerging from a hypercompetitive, minimal pricing scenario, and most importantly, Bharti Airtel has announced plans to set up a cross-operator fixed line entity, for which it will seek to partner with other telecom operators. For expanding its wireline business, and with India not unbundling the last mile, Vodafone will need fixed line infrastructure. A partnership with Airtel is natural, and in our opinion, imminent. Vodafone and Airtel are already JV partners in Indus Towers, along with Idea Cellular. This partnership will allow sharing of the cost of network expansion.

Newly Launched Services On Vodafone Fixed Line

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The newly launched wireline services of Vodafone Business Services will include services such as:

  1. Internet Leased Lines: Vodafone’s Internet Leased Lines aims to provide data connectivity to organisations. This service comes with a bandwidth ranging from 64 Kbps to 1 Gbps.
  2. Virtual Private Networks (MPLS): Through this services, Vodafone will be providing a cloud-based secure and faster data connectivity between offices.
  3. Leased Circuits: This service provides connectivity between two or more offices in India or abroad enabling data transfer between locations.
  4. Office Wireline Voice (E1-DID): Office Wireline Voice Service can be used to turn the employee extensions to direct lines. Vodafone stated that each E1 link will carry 30 digital voice channels that can support a simultaneous usage of 30 phone lines at once. This service will be available only across the major cities in the country.
  5. Audio Conferencing: Four service options are offered under the audio conferencing service. These include Reservation-less Plus, Automated Conference, Operator Assisted and Event. This service is supposed to have online tools and smartphone applications integrated to it.
  6. Toll Free Number: Businesses can get a pan-India toll free number for customers to contact them. Vodafone noted that businesses can also get detailed, itemized bills for their telecommunication spends on these numbers.

Other Developments:

In other news, Vodafone has also recently joined the ranks of companies like Airtel that are against net neutrality. Vodafone wants companies like Facebook and Google to pay for connectivity to cover for the company’s infrastructure cost of data networks and upgrade. In February 2013, Vodafone India and Bharti Airtel had approached the Delhi High Court to challenge the government’s plan to auction the 900MHz spectrum band.

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