Roadmap ahead for RailTel is a steep Growth Path requiring Organizational Excellence at its Best

Arun K Jain, Group General Manager-Corporate Coordination, RailTel Corporation of India Ltd

NEW DELHI: RailTel – a Telecom PSU under Ministry of Railways, has been growing at a very fast and consistent pace, with state-of-the-art infrastructure and dynamic leadership of the management. The future plans of RailTel are well thought through and promise continued growth for years to come.

Before we deliberate on where RailTel is headed and the roadmap it has charted for itself, let us see where it stands at present.

With a background of executing various projects of national importance (NOFN/BharatNet, USoF projects in North East and NKN), RailTel’s contribution towards Digital India dream is immense. Starting the year with a target of providing RailWire Fast Wi-Fi services at 100 stations in 2016, RailTel launched the service at 110th station on December 31, 2016, the New Year’s eve.

This project alone provides connectivity to over 5 million users every month. RailTel’s Telepresence Service (TPaaS) has been used extensively by railways (over 100 events connecting nearly 300 locations during the year) and other government offices, enabling meetings and events being done remotely, cutting down on costs and saving time.

RailTel is also working on Smart City projects, various state governments’ projects for connecting their offices or providing connectivity to thousands of government schools and panchayats. In terms of revenue, RailTel had a 17 percent year-on-year revenue growth in FY 2015-16.

To augment its capabilities in order to sustain the high growth path RailTel is on, every year investment is being made to continually upgrade the network and technology. In FY 2016-17, 150 crore is being invested in RailTel’s network.

RailWire – the home broadband service of RailTel which was ambitiously developed by RailTel in association with Bangalore based Sobha Renaissance Information Technology (SRIT) has more than 1 lakh active subscribers as on date in New Delhi, Ranchi, Varanasi, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Agra, Ludhiana, Mysore, Bangalore, Ambala, Gurgaon, Kolkata, Surat, Chandigarh, Chennai, Mumbai, Lucknow, Amritsar, Jaipur, Meerut, Panipat, Kanpur, Allahabad, Bangalore, Ernakulam, Shoranur, Hubli, Tiruvananthapuram and Indore etc. This is one step in right direction. The competitive service is bound to grow exponentially. With continued focus on providing various services to enterprise sector, RailTel has seen a good growth from this business segment with size of the orders increasing as well. Business from enterprise sector formed almost 20 percent of overall RailTel’s revenue in FY 2015-16.

With reach in all the major population centers of the country, ICT and system integration projects are being seen as a promising growth area for RailTel. Bundling lot many different services, data center services, disaster recovery, leased line, MPLS-IP VPN, telepresence, applications support, and hosting, etc., and providing single service point with dedicated customer support, RailTel offers simplicity and ease of operations to its customers. With a number of new ICT and SI projects successfully executed by RailTel, the required human, technical, and knowledge capability is very much on display. To have focused approach and dedicated workforce in the field of project business, RailTel created a wholly owned subsidiary RailTel Enterprises Limited.

Growing trust in capabilities and potential of RailTel by the Ministry of Railways and other ministries and agencies of the government is visible in many new initiatives and projects. In 2017, many important projects being executed by RailTel shall also remain in focus –implementation of Railway Display Network (RDN) at 2000 stations, Video Surveillance System at about 1000 railway stations, RailWire Wi-Fi services at 200 more stations by the year end. In 2016, RailTel also started working on ERP application support, development and implementation services through in-house ERP team of RailTel. This service shall see a major completion of phase-I work of National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN, now called as BharatNet), also targeted in 2017. Projects of network creation through fiber laying in two North-East telecom circles, NE-I and NE-II, under USoF, are expected to be completed in 2017.

In the current financial Year (FY), RailTel is striving to achieve a year-on-year revenue growth of 20 percent and in FY 2017-18 intends to raise the growth pace further. This high growth roadmap of RailTel is only possible through a committed workforce ensuring in-time delivery of services and execution of projects as per SLAs. With rapid growth of the organization, new manpower at all levels of the organizational hierarchy is being inducted with various skill sets from different backgrounds – private sector, ministries and PSUs, MNCs, etc. In 2016, RailTel inducted over 150 employees at various levels across all verticals. This, supported by robust training and development policies ensures that RailTel always has the required manpower with requisite skill sets.

Building up on the robust legacy of the institutional strength inherited from Indian Railways, RailTel has established itself as a renowned name in extremely competitive telecom sector with ever-thinning margins, while contributing toward the national goals. The roadmap ahead for RailTel is a steep growth path requiring organizational excellence at its best. (Courtesy: Communications Today).

RailNews Opinion: In whatsoever manner we consider, RailTel’s foray is confined to certain niche and select areas only. RailTel is not able to focus on certain mission mode projects at State levels like State FiberGrid projects undertaken by certain State governments in India that provides infrastructure for affordable and high speed broadband connectivity and Digital services in Districts, Mandals, Gram Panchayats, villages and households and government offices, educational institutions, hospitals, banks and other public service institutions for providing the G2G & G2C services. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states have on-boarded firms like Ernst & Young and PWC as Consultants for the FiberGrid projects and have successfully rolled out the services in some areas.

The Govt.of Andhra Pradesh had ambitiously launched AP FiberGrid and commissioned the triple play services successfully in many areas of the state in the recent past. However, despite having a serving IRTS cadre Railway officer on board of AP State FiberGrid Corporation Ltd on deputation, RailTel is not able to get engaged  in the AP FiberGrid for reasons not known.

Likewise, in case of T-FiberGrid project which was ambitiously launched by Telangana State Government wherein the Optical Fiber Communication Network will be built piggybacking on Mission Bhagiratha project (that provides drinking water to rural Telangana) to save digging and trenching costs, RailTel could not proactively got engaged, despite having sizeable OFC network in Telangana.  This speaks about either lack of sufficient resources in Sales and Marketing discipline or the practice within RailTel or otherwise the focus to address such requirements.

As regards RailWire services, the business model and the roll out, RailTel can examine formation of a Joint Venture Company in association with Google and SRIT for roll out the services across the country.  RailTel has to bank on its strength and foray in the markets with Triple-play services to boost its revenues.

RailTel should also focus on various Startups emerging fastly in the Indian IT & Telecom sectors which are enormously contributing for various innovations in Social, Mobility, Analytics and Cloud, leave alone the fastly emerging FinTech enterprises.

In all, RailTel has necessary capabilities, expertise, professional executive team, network, reachability and exposure to spread its wings to catch up with innovation in the era of Digital India.