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At Hughes Communications India, Ltd. (HCIL), there’s not much we love more than a challenge. According to the COMSYS 2011 report, “India is by far the worst country in which to do business for the vendors,” a colossal challenge—even to us. Still, it’s music to our ears when COMSYS goes on to say, “Hughes is the heart and soul of the VSAT business in India.” So goes the journey of a satellite service provider in a developing country like India, which is still figuring out profitable competitiveness, regulatory pitfalls, and customer expectations after 20 years of economic liberalization.
Headquartered outside New Delhi, HCIL began commercial operation in 1995, and we’ve been growing steadily ever since, including double-digit growth in 2011. With more than 220 employees today, we have sales and support offices in major cities such as Bombay, Calcutta, and Bangalore, and hubs in New Delhi and Hyderabad. To date we’ve deployed more than 100,000 broadband satellite terminals, representing over 60 percent of deployments throughout the country.
At HCIL, we take the Hughes innovation and pioneering spirit beyond traditional connectivity to new market segments and applications as they become relevant in this rapidly developing economy. Whether it’s the first digital cinema distribution, setting up education services using satellite technology, or building nationwide e-services kiosks for bridging the digital divide in unserved areas, the Hughes spirit of innovative solutions and pushing boundaries has served us well.
Let’s take a look at the key markets HCIL serves and the broadband drivers that are fueling our growth.
Worldwide, Hughes has built its leadership in broadband satellite networks and services on the enterprise market. In India, key enterprise sectors include banking, education, media, manufacturing, and retail. From the start, Hughes took the lead in this market, bolstered by a poor telecom infrastructure and a large appetite of enterprises for workable, sustainable data communication networks. Hughes has been a pioneer in integrating business process software for large enterprises and banks such Unilever, Philips, and Bank of America. Whether for the first SAP (systems, applications, and products) implementation in the manufacturing sector, or “anywhere banking” in a leading private sector bank, or deployment of the first ATMs in the country—it was always Hughes.
The fast-growing banking industry, for example, is leveraging our fully managed satellite and terrestrial broadband solutions to help close the significant digital and financial divide created by a lack of infrastructure in rural and remote areas. HCIL currently powers more than 30,000 sites, including 15,000 bank branches and 15,000 ATMs for numerous banks, including the State Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, and the Central Bank of India, supporting 1 billion ATM transactions and 150 million credit card transactions annually. Meanwhile, in the popular land of Bollywood, we’re extending the reach of traditional media, delivering digital cinema to more than 4,000 theaters, representing about 60 percent of market share.
But it’s not just large enterprises that need broadband services. Another growing market is the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector. HCIL has established a robust distribution model to provide broadband Internet by satellite in unserved and underserved areas to single-site customers ranging from small businesses, to schools and institutions, to mining and project sites in far-flung areas.
The Indian government has a strong commitment to rural development, which it supports with a range of e-governance programs and resources. For example, the government supports many distance education programs, including Edusat, the world’s first satellite dedicated strictly to education, providing daily education to over 2,500 schools in 14 states through Hughes satellite technology. Likewise, agri-service programs bring Hughes high-speed Internet access by satellite to farmers in rural areas, providing access to the latest pricing, markets, and trends. HCIL also set up India’s Crime and Criminal Tracking Network, the country’s largest police network with more than 1,000 sites, and provides defense command and control networks for the Indian Navy and Army. Similarly, we’re keeping Indian Railways—the fourth largest rail network in the world—on track with an advanced network that automates freight management, provides accident relief trains, and manages unreserved ticketing. In the future, we plan to work with Indian Railways to provide Internet access on trains.
To help meet the challenge of providing Internet access to a population of over 1 billion, HCIL developed a highly successful franchise kiosk model called HughesNet® Fusion in participation with the government to bring affordable broadband by satellite to millions of people in villages and towns. The kiosks enable access to many services such as obtaining birth certificates, land records, and driver’s licenses, as well as distance education.
In 2002, HCIL made the strategic decision to grow its education segment. Satellite is the perfect fit to reach remote areas, and education is the perfect market for a rapidly growing economy and population—not to mention a worthy social cause. Today, our Hughes Global Education offering partners with premier institutes of India and the world to deliver high-level education and training programs via 150 centers in 66 cities in India and abroad. The heart of the Hughes service is a powerful system that provides large numbers of geographically dispersed participants with a highly interactive, oneto- one exchange with faculty. This initiative has helped bridge the educational divide by making quality education and training more affordable, convenient, and accessible to the general public, especially the unserved and underserved. To date, more than 20,000 students have utilized this service, which is growing at a rate of 30 percent per year.
Despite the challenges of doing business in India, the COMSYS 2011 report adds, “Hughes’ India strategy has always been amongst the most innovative in the world,” and “It is hard to see how HCIL could have managed its business much better or achieved more.” That perspective has been borne out by recognition over the past few years from every major media publication and consultancy in the region, including top awards from Voice & Data, Frost & Sullivan, Tele.net, and Communications Today.
I see a solid outlook for HCIL with continued double-digit growth and excellent business opportunities, particularly in banking, government, and education. We believe India is the future. So for our team, it’s not just about running a business. It’s also about contributing to the development of our country. We welcome you to visit our Web site at www.hughes.in to find out more—or better still, visit us and our amazing country in person.