When it came to quality test equipment for telecommunications and related applications, two names used to come to mind, these being TTC who dominated the US market, and WWG (incorporating Wavetek) who were number one in Europe. Two years ago TTC bought out its competitor and merged the two companies to form a new entity called Acterna.
This new Acterna effectively became the world's second-largest test and measuring equipment company and unquestionably number one when it came to telecoms-related test equipment. Acterna, which also acquired Cheetah Technologies at the time of the WWG merger, is active in five core business areas: optical transport, access, cable-TV, data and wireless. Of this, only cable-TV is not relevant to our local market.
This merger was effected on 14 February 2000 but for the next six months TTC and WWG continued to operate as separate entities. From September 2000 until recently, (October 2001) the company was in a phase of consolidation where product overlap was eliminated. Either the best product, or that with the largest existing market share was continued, and new developments were again rationalised. Although this process was painful, in many cases it was also possible to simply eliminate products that were nearing the end of their useful life anyway. During this period the familiar brand names of many products, including Wavetek, were changed to the Acterna branding.
At the time of the merger Grintek had represented TTC in South Africa since 1991, while Spescom more recently had acquired the distribution rights for WWG. In the interim period from 2000 to late last year, Acterna was jointly represented by these two local companies, Grintek being given responsibility for business with Telkom, Vodacom, and all business from Namibia through Grintek's office in that country. As of October 2001, Grintek has been appointed as the sole distributor.
Acterna obviously had many reasons for choosing Grintek but there is no doubt that the long relationship with the latter and their proven support structure was an important consideration. No other company had ever represented TTC in South Africa and over the years Grintek had won many awards, including distributor of the year (on two occasions) as well as for product support and innovation. In regard to the latter, Grintek itself came up with suggested enhancements to existing products that TTC in fact, has implemented in its product range.
The change in terms of distribution rights has seen a significant increase in baseline business for Grintek according to Measurement Solutions Business Unit Manager, Terry Sanderson. In addition, there is a growing business with resellers in the rest of Africa who have found that it is easier and more efficient to work with Grintek rather than going directly through Europe. This single source for Acterna products has also removed the confusion that existed in the customer base following the merger. Grintek Telecom will now provide full support for all TTC and WWG products already in the marketplace, and their workshop staff have already received extensive overseas training on the significantly extended product range.
One of Terry Sanderson's objectives will be to provide value-added services for the local telecommunications industry. In the next few months a series of generic technology-focused training courses will be offered. Attractively-priced in rand terms, overseas experts - Grintek can call on more than 17 trainers that Acterna has allocated to the Middle East and Africa region - will be used to provide these presentations that will be especially suitable in promoting corporate empowerment objectives.
Acterna today has a presence in some 80 countries throughout the world, with Grintek being one of only a few distributors. Its corporate policy is one of interacting directly with end users. This again is a reflection of the confidence that the company has in Grintek Telecom to deliver the right products and service to the local telecommunications industry. While Acterna covers the entire cross section of telecommunications, they are particularly strong in GSM testing (a booming business in Africa) and the Wavetek 4201 is recommended by virtually all the major mobile equipment supply companies including Ericsson and Nokia.
Acterna will be launching an updated website shortly and a South African page will be included. This will provide information on local training courses and information on products that are particularly appropriate for local operators. The site will also be linked directly to the Grintek Telecom website.
Grintek Telecom is now fully up and running with the full range of Acterna testing products and the company is looking forward to the resurgence in its business that will be experienced with the coming on-line of the new fixed line operator service. No doubt further growth in business can be expected as the local mobile operators expand their networks into other parts of the African continent.
For further information contact Grintek Telecom, 012 672 8059, firstname.lastname@example.org
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