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Shailendra Kalra
Director - India & SAARC
Livingston India

Rental Is The Way To Go!

Livingston is perhaps the largest company, way ahead of any other in the business of rentals, having pioneered the rental concept for the telcos. Please comment.

Livingston is one of the largest companies, not only in India, but globally, for test and measurement equipment rental. The telecom sector in India has been reeling under cost pressure for over 5 years. The industry was looking at innovative and cost-effective ways to be able to deliver telecom services to the masses. Livingston has and continues to address this need with its service offering of rentals and asset management solutions. 

Competitive pricing is crucial to the Indian market. Please share your strategy to stay ahead.

Price competitiveness is not only a challenge but also an opportunity. Competitiveness drives innovation and creativity and that has been the strategy for the last many years and will continue to be the prime focus. The value proposition we brought to the telecom market was unique and helped customers optimize cost structures related to testing. The market has consolidated more than ever, and the pressure on the industry has increased. What this means is that we need to be able to create more value out of our offerings for the customers. A large part of it is getting addressed through the scale of our inventory, which has increased significantly over the last 5 years. With more value-added services like asset management and e2e lifecycle management of test equipment, we will be further able to create value for customers by enabling them to manage the utilization of their test assets and optimize the associated costs. Our new digital platform that will be rolled out in 2019 will enable us to enhance efficiency in operations that will make us more competitive in the market.

Livingston has expanded and diversified its operations in a major way over the last couple of years and has gone through a whirlwind of acquisitions. Please elaborate.

Livingston has not only grown organically in the last few years but has also been through two major acquisitions. In 2014, Livingston was acquired by Microlease, which made the combined entity the single largest T&M rental company in the EMEA and Asia region.  This helped the Indian arm grow the inventory to more than double, benefitting existing customers and helped set a foothold in other sectors such as semiconductors and general-purpose electronics. In 2017 Electrorent, the largest rental company in the US, acquired Microlease, thereby creating a merged entity that is the largest T&M rental company with a truly global footprint. The company now is a global test and technology solution provider that enables innovation and optimizes investment for 6000+ customers worldwide.

What is the role you see emerging for your company from the 5G and IoT opportunity, and what is the timeline we are looking at?

5G will bring a new level of performance and new characteristics to telecom networks, enabling new services, new ecosystems, and new revenue models. Network operators can capture the 5G potential by enabling the current telecom infrastructure and deployment of the new standards. From a test and measurement point of view, the requirements of throughput and latency that the millions of connected devices will put on the networks will require significant testing. The quality of service for the networks will be an important focus area especially in use cases that will require ultra high reliability of latency. Livingston will be able to provide test solutions to overcome these challenges while keeping the costs of carrying out such tests low.

Not only the network, IoT devices will also require testing solutions that are less expensive, less complex, and fast to deploy. The rental model is an appropriate solution that could be used by the IoT device ecosystem to eliminate the challenges and risks associated with the deployment of such test solutions.

Apart from this, one major phenomenon that is taking place with 5G and IoT is the emergence of companies that need to build IoT connectivity into their existing products and hence will require testing for those devices. The unfamiliarity with test systems and associated costs could be a major inhibitor for such companies and this is where Livingston will be able to help with alternate and flexible ways to acquire and use test equipment.

IoT is in some sense is happening today even on 4G.  The deployment of 5G is still 12-18 months away and dependent not only on the spectrum allocation that is slated to take place in the second half of 2019, but also on the financial health of the telecom sector.

In a nutshell, Livingston will play the important role of an enabler in the overall 5G ecosystem by providing flexible, cost effective, and easy to deploy test solutions from leading OEMs.

What are the challenges and opportunities you see for your company over the next couple of years? Where do you see yourselves?

A big opportunity is brewing, especially in local manufacturing like handset manufacturing and consumer electronics, assembling, and opportunities at upcoming EMC Labs. The country has become the hub of mobile and handset manufacturing and trends are positive.

There are multiple challenges- increasing numbers of the versatile test systems, availability of the right test instruments at the right time, and growing complexities imposed by new technologies to name a few.

The T&M industry is involved with technology developments right from the conception, design, and development stage, which demands best quality and economical test equipment to support testing and enable faster time to market. It is during these phases that the investments in test equipment are a risky proposition for the designers. In such  situations, rental and leasing are the best options that not only provide the right economic model but also protection against obsolescence.

We will continue to support our customers with cost-effective solutions (rental and long-term leasing solutions) available with our latest fleet of instruments and hassle-free logistic services. We are also upgrading our fleet of instruments as per technological shifts to support upcoming technologies such as 5G/IoT and market segments like aerospace and defence local demand. India is a growth market and our management is committed to this market.

Apart from test and measurement solutions that we provide on a rental basis, we are emerging as a Total Test Solution Provider with the array of services that we offer to our customers. These include our asset management services and lab services.

Anything else you may like to add.

I would like to wish the CT readers a happy and prosperous new year!

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