Interview With Oleg Khaykin, President and CEO, Viavi Solutions


Oleg Khaykin, President & CEO, Viavi Solutions

It is fairly known that Viavi Solutions, the erstwhile JDSU, is a leading name in Test&Measurement solutions and helps operators across the globe in monitoring and optimising their cellular networks. However, it is hardly known how this company is touching the lives of over a billion Indians on a daily basis. Well, this company makes sure the currency note you are using is fake-proof. After the demonitization drive by Prime Minister Modi, this company helped Indian government ensure the new Rs 500 currency notes can not be counterfeited. TeleAnalysis caught up with Oleg Khaykin, President and CEO of Viavi Solutions in his maiden visit to India and discussed many issues of the Indian telecom industry including the financial health of Indian operators. Excerpts:

Q. What is the significance of your first India visit?

India is one of our strong growth regions.When I joined Viavi, there is this company clearly in the midst of transformation. After the JDSU broke up into two, and Viavi became a separate company I joined as CEO. First I had to understand what’s going on the company, what are the dynamics and thought if i can get the house in order. I wanted to understand our customers and one thing that I started doing on priority is to channelize our resources towards more customer services and India is among one of our fastest growth regions in Asia.

North America is our biggest market and the most developed and fairly matured. Traditionally JDSU was very much North america focused and for a company size of Viavi I realized we are too under-penetrated in other markets including India.

We are worried of the financial health of Indian operators, and we have solutions to help them”

Q. What is the reason for this under-penetration?
Well, when I joined I asked all my general managers which are the markets they travel. I was surprised to know they don’t go beyond North America. I though if you are not traveling and not meeting your customers then how do you know what they are doing. So I told my GMs (general manager) that I would spend a month every quarter in each of our markets. It develops appreciation, you are in a better position to understand your customers and and when your technical managers visit the customers you are in a better position to understand their requirements, the industry dynamics, and as a result you can offer the required and better solutions to them.

Q. How big is your APAC market? I believe it contributes 23% of your global revenue?
Its much more than that. You are right if we take only the T&M business into consideration, we would be at 23-25% but you may not be knowing our other business. You must not be knowing you all viavi customers. How? well, the green strip that you see in the Rs 500 currency note is made up of Viavi counterfeiting technology and our optical solutions and we are the leaders in this business. That’s why I say Viavi has over 1 billion customers in India.

Q. And how big is this business unit of Viavi?
Its around $250 to 300 million a year and our instrumentation business is around $650 million.

Q. Of the 25% APAC’s revenue contribution how much is India’s share?
Well, India is relatively a small market. We do not break up our revenues country wise because we are a public company. While I say India is relatively small we are seeing a huge growth here and the market has got a nice trajectory.

Q.What would be the growth rate?
Again, I cant disclose the exact growth rate as a global policy but it has achieved double digit growth in recent past.

Q.Whats you expectation from this market?
India market, in terms of optical instrumentation, is very attractive because more and more are being deployed by the operators, the bandwidth is growing. the wireless market is growing very rapidly, in the new deployments by the telcos fiber is being going all the way to the antenna. India offers a very good business opportunity for us, for both in terms of fiber monitoring and fiber equipment. It also boosts our assurance business as we help operators in monitoring their network, their performance and their data.

Q.Did you see any kind of growth for your company after India rolled out 4G?
Well, of course. We do have a very strong portfolio in 4G solutions and India is one of our major markets for our assurance products. Because when you roll out 4G, you just do not roll out the hardware, you also make sure the services offer end to end performance. We have a number of Indian telcos using our 4G assurance solutions. Putting up hardware for the network is the easier part of 4G roll-out, the next phase is keeping the network optimised, which is more of a software solution.

Q.As you are meeting the operators here, what are the challenges you noticed they are facing?
I met many operators in the last couple of days and I do not think there are any technical challenges they have that we can not solve. My biggest concern is the financial health of lot of operators because there is so much of strong competition in India that lot of them are not making any money and ideally low cost is good for operators but one needs to ask is this model sustainable, are these operators viable in long term? and certainly we need to see if our customers make money. and if they make money, they buy products. One more important thing is if these operators do not make profit, they will fall behind of new technologies and if that happens, ultimately the customers would suffer.

Q. Why do you think these models are not viable in long term?
Well, we are seeing the financial records of the operators and they are in bad shape. If there comes a stage when you earn more by putting your money in bank rather than invest in networks, then no body is going to invest. If you see in some countries where the operators are not making money, they stopped investing in their networks and new technologies, and in the end their wireless performance is degrading. One thing to remember here is competition is good but too much competition is not good.

Q. Can you give us an Idea about your India presence?

Viavi Solutions has been present in India for more than 20 years now and has been supplying its state of the art technology instruments to Indian telcos, R&D Labs, Defence, Public Sector Units etc.

Our India headquartered is in Gurgaon with sales offices in Mumbai and Bangalore. Sales, Pre-Sales and Support staff are available at all the locations to address the needs of our customers. The IT Development Centre is in Pune which is engaged in design, implementation, maintenance, support, enhancement of sophisticated database systems and enterprise application technologies. We have our repair and calibration centre in Gurgaon and our technicians here ensure that our customers’ equipment is functioning properly by completing any maintenance and installing enhancements including engineering change notice updates.

Our SDH Analyser ANT-20 has been the leader in its domain in India and is the first choice of all our esteemed customers here. Viavi OTDRs and Fibre Optic handhelds are used by all operators, system integrators and contractors in this segment.

We also work with channel partners to educate our customers and deliver superior sales and service support. We work hand-in-hand with partners with a joint commitment to increasing the value of Viavi instruments, software, and platforms.

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