I am referring to indian markets only but wont be surprised if they can do some hard bargaining in international markets as well.
Also note that there is a serious supply gap which is why everyone is expanding capacity. This answers your first question whether they can squeeze buyers. OFC is competitive market agree but this is for only cable manufacturers. You forget that even to HFCL, Vindhya etc raw material i.e. fibre is provided by likes of Sterlite. They only manufacture the cables. Only sterlite is an integrated player. Check the financial ratios of Vindhya / HFCL / Aksh and validate what I am saying.
I am reiterating, please speak with the buyers who interact with STL and get a feedback.
For telecom players OFC procurement and laying is a pain area and do they have any choice, no they need to deal with STL due to its sheer capacity to provide them OFC. This is simply because they have ignored the backhaul infra upgradation which was needed to support 4G.
Please validate this with anyone who is buying OFC and working in the industry. The small players like you mentioned will be bulldozed, the large players will be dealt with politely. For instance, if you have contract for supply and spot market rates are up say 20%, they are willing to supply only 20-30% of your ask at that price. Please understand that they are also buying raw material i.e. silica from international markets at spot rates.
Are you also aware that though they deal with Govt, they are never L1 price bidders. The govt contracts are awarded to multiple players and STL is always getting at L2 or higher price since they dont budge on prices beyond a point.
Also want to mention that this is a commodity and they are in a sweet spot. There is a lot of old fibre and network which needs to be upgraded.
I do not have any interest in the stock, just sharing my experience since I have been in this industry for a very long time and thought this information would be of use to everyone.