Under-representation in the board room fails wholesale market, Aircel chief warns

06 August 2012 | Kavit Majithia


The wholesale market could face an uncertain future beset by under-investment and a lack of strategic direction unless major operators promote more sector specialists to the board room, a senior industry veteran warns this month.

Chandan Ghosh, head of business solutions at Aircel, a top-five Indian mobile network operator, is urging companies to bolster top-level management expertise in wholesale as an urgent priority.

In what could be perceived as a scathing attack on the way telecoms companies structure their business, the Aircel veteran, who has more than 33 years’ experience in the telecoms industry, warns that the wholesale sector risks being sidelined as telecoms chiefs plough huge investment dollars into their retail mobile businesses.

Speaking exclusively to Capacity, Ghosh suggested that wholesale units could be failing to secure investment and development because there is a lack of support in the board room to fight for their cause.

Ghosh claims that companies will rarely commit to capex investment in wholesale “because they have never attempted to, or never will, understand the business”.

Ghosh added: “An operator’s core business is no longer wholesale and any money that needs to be given out will be made available to businesses that top management understand.”

Ghosh went on to claim that boards are choosing to invest and focus predominately on the local retail business, without sufficient knowledge of the wholesale business.

“Leadership of the entire group comes from the retail business, and there never has been, or ever will be, an attempt by anyone to understand how the wholesale business works,” he said.

Ghosh’s views come at a time when operators have significantly scaled back investment and mergers and acquisitions activity amidst an uncertain economic climate and declining revenues.

David James, practice leader at Ovum’s wholesale team, believes the opportunity for telecoms wholesalers now lies in adopting a more strategic approach to growth, including a drive to broaden service portfolios, increase network reach and avoid M&A.

“Wholesalers must share information, plans, best practises, customer feedback and market intelligence and monitor the continuing effectiveness and benefits of working with each partner,” he said.

Ovum’s latest report urges wholesale segments, like Ghosh’s at Aircel to partner with third party companies to launch new services and enter new markets.