Prasanna Gokhale, Corporate Manager Marketing- Telecom & Wireless, Tata Elxsi takes us through the wireless offerings of the company particularly for the WiMAX industry in an interaction with TelecomTiger
Q1) Where do Tata Elxsi offerings fit in the value chain of WiMAX service offerings?
Ans: Telecom OEMs and ODMs targeting the WiMAX market face business challenges of time-to-market, evolving applications around WiMAX and the need for cost-effective solutions. This in turn poses technical challenges for the engineering teams, in terms of constantly evolving expertise requirements, product changes to suit evolving standards, and driving engineering towards lower cost solutions.
We offer technical consulting, product development and extensive testing services including system and interop testing. Our teams of domain experts, system engineers and architects along with L1 and L2 engineers, have been working with customers on developing WiMAX systems for the past four years. We are engaged in a variety of projects, from full system engineering, to market specific customizations, to testing and product sustenance.
We have also invested in developing solution accelerators through high performance software stacks for both base Station and Mobile Station implementations, allowing customers to get to market faster. We also actively participate in the WiMAX Forum and track changes to the standards.
Q2) WiMAX and LTE are considered to be competing technologies? How does Tata Elxsi justify its presence in offering solutions for both?
Ans: We have been engaged in wireless technologies, including GSM, CDMA, UMTS and Wifi, for many years. Tata Elxsi is a Services company and we have over the years build the expertise in various emerging technologies in order to provide value to our customers worldwide. Any of the technologies being competitive to each other is only incidental and does not affect our business interests in any way.
LTE and WiMAX are different standards to address a common goal of providing broadband access. In fact, in this particular case, we have leveraged our strong expertise in WiMAX, and the experience of addressing challenges of such technologies on the hardware and overall system requirements, for customers targeting the LTE standard too.
Q3) Which are the global clients of Tata Elxsi’s wireless solutions?
Ans: We have NDAs with our major customers therefore will not be able to share name. However, we do have three categories of customers - Tier -1 , Tier -2 OEMs and ODMs who are designing and manufacturing telecom products, silicon vendors who are developing chips and custom SoCs for this market, and Telcos who are rolling out services. We have active engagements on the infrastructure / core network side, as well as handset side of wireless technologies.
Q4) Indian companies are not known to have presence in design and development of upcoming wireless technologies. How did Tata Elxsi overcome this major perception?
Ans: If you have followed the evolution of Tata Elxsi, we have been having specific focus on emerging technologies both in the wired and wireless space for more than 10 years. In the Wired Space, we were one of the first Engineering services company in India to work in the Switching and Routing Space.
In Wireless space, we have been one of the first Engineering services company to work on WLAN technology in the early part of this decade, as also the cellular side through work done for emerging CDMA and UMTS technologies.
We made strategic decisions to invest in developing WiMAX engineering expertise, and building solution accelerators and stacks for this market. We have done significantly well in WiMAX and are continuing with LTE now.
Q5) Give some insights into the company’s R&D activities and future expansion plans?
Ans: Tata Elxsi Limited has been in the Product R&D Outsourcing Business since 1989. Set up in Bangalore as a dedicated center in 1989 to under take Product R&D on Elxsi Mainframe Machines, the founding team comprised Hardware Engineers & System Software Engineers, who built the next generation Mainframe OS and a complete storage sub-system (6 channel SCSI Adapter) on the Elxsi Mainframes. 17 Years later, we look back with pride at the Inside the Box Competencies™ we have built to deploy technologies across the layers of products - hardware & software. We offer "Full Life-Cycle Product Design Services" to customers in markets that include Network & Telecom, Wireless, Consumer Electronics, Media, Scientific Instrumentation & Storage. The unique mix of capabilities & a multi-site delivery model presents customers with key benefits of cost-effective '''product engineering' & time to market advantages.
Given the challenges of outsourced Product R&D market, our business focus has helped develop very mature in-bound & out-bound processes to engage with clients on projects across the life cycle of products.
As a technology and engineering services company, we focus on R&D for both aspects – helping customers adopt new technologies and build products, and reduce cost and time of development through process innovation and quality. We have R&D teams in various areas, including multimedia, Digital TV and Wireless, to name a few. We actively participate in tradeshows, conferences and events across the world, and study emerging trends and disruptive technologies. We have developed our own frameworks to help identify emerging trends and technologies, and build expertise.
Q6) Your sister concerns from Tata Group, Tata Communications and Tata Teleservices are also present in the wireless space. Is there any plan to combine the synergies of such sister concerns and come out with a comprehensive WiMAX service offering?
Ans: Tata Communications and Tata Teleservices are service providers, while we work with telecom and product companies developing products. Our unique services framework offers customers flexibility to leverage various R & D scenarios across the stages of product life cycle. This breadth of services is targeted to specific industries and technologies and is complemented by the flexibility in manpower deployment achieved by customer driven engagement models.
We are already working indirectly with service providers, through our product customers. We also actively work with service providers in systems and technology consulting, as well as application and testing areas.
Q7) Your view points on the WiMAX potential in India?
Ans: In general, WiMAX has seen very good traction and adoption in India. India already has active deployment of WiMAX, and multiple operators rolling out WiMAX services.
According to WiMAX Forum by 2012 the Indian market will support 27.5 million WiMAX users representing approximately 20% of the global WiMAX user base. In India, WiMAX represents a win-win proposition, benefiting both network operators and subscribers at the same time. Broadband penetration being low, the opportunity for operators to gain large numbers of subscribers through WiMAX is incredible. Any service provider with innovative service offerings, attractive devices and go-to-market plans that maximize the utility offered by WiMAX technology to price-sensitive Indian customers can use this ready and proven technology to quickly gain market share.
We see very good potential for WiMAX to address requirements for broadband access in both metro and rural areas in India.
Q8) How do you view the ongoing delay in BWA and 3G spectrum auctioning in the country?
Ans: The spokesperson refused to share views on this question.