Ciena has been having a dream run in India. Earlier this year, the maker of fiber-optic equipment announced partnerships with Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, two of the country's three big service providers. Now it hopes to accelerate growth under the leadership of Rajesh Nambiar, the recently appointed chairman and president of its Indian business, who joined Ciena after a 13-year stint at IBM.
"Demand for wireless mobile broadband will continue to be a growth driver for us in India," says Nambiar. "Wireless broadband subscribers more than doubled in the last two years. Driven by a rise in affordable smartphones and drop in broadband tariffs, the consumption of mobile data is rapidly increasing."
Thanks to that mobile boom, India has become of the world's largest markets for optical transport network equipment, and experts think growth is set to continue over the next few years.
Indian service providers are also taking steps to modernize IT and network operations, using software-based solutions to facilitate their so-called "digital transformation."
For Ciena and its rivals, 5G represents a massive opportunity. India plans a 5G spectrum auction later this year, and the rollout of higher-speed mobile services will demand investment in supporting optical infrastructure.
The ongoing security controversy surrounding China's Huawei could also help Ciena to increase its market share. While Chinese equipment makers are not banned in India, they have not yet been included in the government's list of suppliers for 5G trials. Concern about the use of Huawei's equipment could translate into gains for Ciena as well as optical rivals like ECI, Nokia and Tejas Networks.
Nambiar hopes to capitalize on these various market developments and is already planning to increase headcount in all business functions to address growth opportunities.
"In the coming years, my responsibility is to elevate Ciena's brand in India," he says. "My primary focus areas for the near term includes accelerating business growth, establishing relationships with key government and industry associations, strengthening employee engagement and positioning Ciena as the best place to work in India."
— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading