September 30, 2007


I want my own telecom company

More than 200 companies want to build a telecom company. The real estate companies like DLF, Unitech, IndiaBulls, Parsvanath want to "diworseify" to telcom. Many are in the queue just to beat the deadline, but that still leaves a substantial number of interested parties. The obvious question is why such a mad scramble? The question is more puzzling if you consider the situation before 4 years. In 2003, when Reliance launched its service, everybody thought Reliance is burning the cash when the market has already saturated. 4 years later, Reliance is 2nd largest telecom operator in the country and India is adding 6-8 million subscribers per month.

I suppose the business case for telecom companies can be written on the backside of BEST bus-ticket. Bharti, the market leader, has 46 million subscribers and Dalal Street values the company at US$ 45 billion. Reliance Communication, with 34 million subscribers, is valued at US$30 billion. Which essentially means, each subscriber is valued at approx US$ 900.

Now think of the potential. India's cellphone subscriber base is approx 200 million. In absolute terms, 75% percent of countries in the world have population less than that. But, that number is dwarfed by China's 500+ million subscribers. The "If China can do it, so can we" attitude, admirable at that, says that 300 million subscribers are yet to be added.

If you multiply the potential users (300 million) with valuation for each subscriber ($900), we are talking about a $270 billion company. Even you halve that number for a conservative estimate, that is still $135 billion company - 3-times bigger than Bharti Airtel. No wonder, everybody wants to have piece of this gigantic cake. Let's not forget, the richest man in the world owns telecom companies in Latin America.

Photo Courtsey: msputz2u on Flickr


September 18, 2007


Twenty20 and India's GDP Growth

Obligatory Disclaimer: I follow Cricket with enthusiasm that slightly edges the weather forecast. (I know, in this country where Cricket a religion, I might get death threats for such blasphemous statement. Please, don't kill me. I am still on the wrong side of 20s.)

In India, where everybody has passionate views about every aspect of cricket, a major change like Twenty20 will serve as fodder for next few years. While purist lament on the game losing its grace, there are liberal minded folks who love the change. All the same, they seem to agree, reluctantly or euphorically, on one thing - Twenty20 is here to stay. In that light I have a interesting take on the impact of new format of game.

Here are the ODIs played by Indian Cricket team in last 5 years - 28(2003), 32(2004), 27(2005), 30(2006), 25(till Sep 2007). And the same stats for test are - 5(2003), 12(2004), 8(2005), 12(2006), 6(till Sep 2007). So the total cricketing action per year is 53 days (2003), 92(2004), 67(2005), 90(2006), 55(till Sep 2007). That is, anywhere from 15% to 25% of year has some cricketing action.

Think of the day when India is playing a game (even if it is against the team ranked #27 in the ICC list. Wait, there are only 12 teams. Whatever.) That day almost entire India comes to a standstill. If a doctor is in the middle of a critical cardiac operation, he will also ask "Score kya hua?" after every 15 minutes. That is the kind of obsession our country has for cricket. Essentially, entire country is not working on those days. If you come to think of it, we are talking about productivity loss of 7-12% (after discounting the weekends, abandoned matches, lesser interest test cricket, etc.)

With Twenty20, this picture will change. It will eat the share of ODIs and Tests. But, since there is little room for increasing the total number of days of cricketing action (due to travel), automatically, fewer days will be spent on ODIs and Test. Which immediately translates to less damage to productivity. And the kicker would be Twenty20 will not affect productivity much as I expect most of the matches being played during prime time ie 1900 hrs to 2200 hrs. And if Twenty20 becomes more popular than ODIs, then there will be dwindling interest in ODIs and Test.

Bottom line: If Twenty20 becomes popular in next few years, India will finally achieve the magical double-digit GDP growth.

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September 13, 2007


Sania Mirza and IRCTC

My unhappiness on the amount of attention and awards showered on Sania Mirza just gets worse when she performs badly and then goes on defending that.

"I don't want to be too greedy. For this reason, I am not setting targets in terms of achieving any rankings." She is currently ranked at World No. 27. I don't think world has time to remember semi-final losers, let alone somebody who had hit a career high rank of 20s. (Read more on such quotes soaked in infinite wisdom here.)

This girl hogs disproportionately copious amount of limelight when she doesn't boast any performance in recent past worth admiration.

irctc-compatibility Switch to IRCTC. They launched the new website few days back and it failed miserably with Firefox. The footer was appearing at the top of the page and the text boxes just refused to accept any data. They fixed it recently and now boast that their website works on Mozilla, Netscape and Safari. This is like Bajaj launching a bike and proclaiming that it works on petrol from not just IOC, but BPCL, HPCL also. And, excuse me, but I haven't seen anybody, using Netscape in last 5 years. Even 5 years ago, the only place I saw that software was on Solaris boxes. Bossman has written code for that browser a decade back and even he doesn't use it. So, what's the point of such ridiculous claim?


So, what's the common between Sania and IRCTC? At one level both of them have achieved something remarkable. Sania has made a name for herself in Indian tennis arena. And IRCTC has clearly made train reservation a much swift and pleasant experience. But at the other level, they think their current achievements are the final frontiers of excellence. And that keeps them away from trying harder.

If Sania's attitude towards game continues like to be this, mediocrity will take her popularity down faster. And, she will disappear in oblivion when media finds next Rakhi Sawant or Mallika Sherawat. Oh, wait, she might get a role opposite Shah Rukh Khan.

September 06, 2007



A lot is being discussed about monitoring internet traffic in India. I, for one, am under no illusion that currently there is no monitoring at all in India. (Though, I find idea of key-logger utterly creepy.)

I have seen development of a network traffic monitoring tool. And as written in the abstract below, it is meant for law enforcement agencies. This more than 5 years back, and to the best of my knowledge it was improved in subsequent releases. Here is the original thesis. From the abstract
The extensive use of computers and networks for exchange of information has also had ramifiations on the growth and spread of crime through their use. Law enforcement agencies need to keep up with the emerging trends in these areas for crime detection and prevention. Among the several needs of such agencies is the need to monitor, detect and analyze undesirable network traffic. However, the monitoring, detecting, and analysis of this traffic may be against the goal of maintaining privacy of individuals whose network communications are being monitored.

PS: Running short of time, so no insightful wisdom on the topic. And there is enough out there already.


Google Reader adds Search

Google Reader was the only Google service which didn't had their legendary search box on the page. Till today.

Google Reader Search

And the results include even the expired items from the RSS feed. It has found "thousands" of results for the query "apple."


It's been just a couple of months since I left Bloglines and got onto Google Reader. And the latest enhancements vindicate my decision. As I had commented on Shyam's blog recently, now Google almost own the Blog ecosystem. This blog is published on Blogger (owned by Google), the feeds are published via Feedburner(again owned by Google) and the blogs are read in Google Reader. That is end-to-end integration at its best.


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