The Wi-Fi space is gathering pace in India as internet consumption rises at an unprecedented level. The investment is pouring in from telecom operators like Jio and Airtel, Internet giants like Google and Facebook and specialised Wi-Fi providers. For long, entities like Cisco and Ericsson have ruled the Wi-Fi equipment market; they now have serious competition from other operators like Ruckus Networks and Mojo Networks. In a conversation with Business Today's Manu Kaushik, the country head (India and Saarc) of Ruckus Networks, Sudarshan Boosupalli discusses the changing dynamics of the market. Here are the excerpts.
Ruckus Networks set its foot in India in 2008, what's the total number of access points (APs) that Ruckus has installed since then?
Ruckus has been widely adopted by service providers and corporate enterprises in India. The company has over 5,000 customers in India supported by an extensive channel network of over 800 authorised partners and distributors. The customers include leading smart cities, hospitality brands, healthcare, education, service providers, public venues, retail, logistics, manufacturing enterprises and the government.
The number of access points and the type we sell on an average ranges every quarter, depending on the types of projects we deploy. For instance, smart cities, sporting venues, high density Wi-Fi and public Wi-Fi are typically large deployments, which are beyond thousands. In a year, the average [deployments] is between 70,000 and 90,000.
What kind of customers do you work with? Share some names in the private and the government sector?
Ruckus customers in India include large utilities like airports, hotels, tourist venues, public Wi-Fi, logistics hubs, healthcare, e-retailing, education, small, medium and big enterprises. We work with nearly all the service provider in the market. In the healthcare space, we have AIIMS, Breach Candy, Apollo and others. In the education space, we work with IIT, IIMs, BITS Pilani, Thapar University and many others. The public Wi-Fi and smart city deployments continues to be a key sector we are seeing good momentum, including cities like Gandhinagar, Kakinada and working with Google Stations.
In fact, the iconic Taj Mahal has Ruckus too. The list is quite exhaustive, including number of famous sporting venues such as cricket stadiums across the country.
What's the cost of installation of APs? How the prices have changed over the years?
The Wi-Fi adoption has become mainstream today. The companies, large or small, are starting to invest in better class of enterprise-grade Wi-Fi Infrastructure. In addition, we are seeing a number of smaller customers investing in enterprise grade Wi-Fi - whether in retail joints, coffee shops and malls. This is not just growing the market but also helping vendors like Ruckus to bring more options to the customers. The enterprise grade Wi-Fi has become more affordable and easy to deploy, thanks to technologies that we offer that help even a novice to deploy Wi-Fi under three minutes. The prices are based on the type of the product, density, and where it's deployed - indoor or outdoor. This can start from a few hundred dollars into the thousands. If you look at a trend over five years, the prices would have dropped at least by 50 per cent if not more.
In a cost-competitive environment, how are you managing the demands of internet service providers?
Let us look at the global picture. In 2015, the US telecom regulator FCC redefined broadband as an internet connection that delivers at least 25 mbps (megabytes per second) downstream. In India, the government is contemplating a change in the definition of 'broadband'- from current 512 kbps (kilobytes per second) to 2 mbps. This is good news.
The business users and consumers are demanding better connectivity, and the service providers are playing an important role with investments in fiber-to-business and fiber-to-homes, helping push broadband speeds. With this, there is also a need to upgrade the network edge, which is where businesses and consumers are utilising these services. We work with a number of service providers understanding their business strategy and the markets they are foraying to develop solutions and products that fit within their strategy.