Archive for October, 2008

Indian Telecom Industry

Lately, I went through quiet a bit of mobile related events. Today, I am trying to sum-up the main points from some of them.

According to one of the largest mobile operators in India, there are five pillars in innovation space i.e. Music, Bollywood, Sports, Games and M-Commerce. These five are 80% need of Indian customers. If these are served by ay operator, they will be quiet successful now and more when 3G comes into play in India.

One of the top executives from the above operator mentioned that they had recieved 200,000 interested consumers for 3G iphone when they were expecting price to be around US$199 as was in USA. But finally when the phone was launched in India, the number of actual buyers fell sharply. He, however declined to give the exact figures. But, he also said that in first phase of roll out of 3G, top 10% of the market will be the first ones to adopt the iPhone. This, however is untrue in the west where it has been seen that iPhone is more popular amongts the lower salaried people then the higher salaried ones. This is quiet a contrast.

According to some operators VAS is picking up very well in India. But still, it only contributes about 10% to the overall revenues of the companies. And amazingly, some people in India feel that SMS will not last long. But off the total of 10% revenue, about 5%+ revenue comes from SMS only. Many operators in India are highly focussing on revenues out of SMS business as this is ones of the core components of revenues being generated out of rural areas.

The top three issues on which call centres of operators recieve the most number of calls are network, billing and VAS. These are the top three areas which require improvement and innovation on every operator’s part and each operator is putting it’s best efforts to achieve highest efficiency upto 2010 before the start of Common Wealth Games.


October 31st, 2008

Motorola to opt for Android OS

Sources in India have mentioned that Motorola is soon going to opt for Google’s Android as operating system for its new range of phones. On the other hand, business-focused devices will be based on Microsoft Windows Mobile. The company however, will continue to use its own platform, P2K for low-end phones. The company is also looking to outsource production of some windows Mobile phones.


October 30th, 2008

Telecom Operators facing restrictions from Taliban…

Telecom Operators in the Taliban occupied regions are facing restrictions for operations in the day time. They are being ordered by Taliban group people to shut down operations in the day time as otherwise Talibans movements are being tracked by security forces.


October 27th, 2008

Solar Power is the way to go for Telecom Companies in Villages

Increasingly around the world, companies are looking to penetrate the under-developed/ developing countries as well as the remote interiors of the country like villages etc. But the first problem they face is the lack of adequate power-supply. Many companies in Africa have started using solar energy for running their base stations and cell-towers and also deploying solar powered wireless routers for dealing with the problems.

I even saw about an year ago, lot of Chinese were actually using solar energy to charge their mobile phones. Thus, I feel, in some years, solar energy will be the main source of energy for companies to support their telecom infrastructure or else they will have to invest huge sums of money to maintain or update their infrastructure.


3 comments October 26th, 2008

Call Revenues surging in Kashmir in India

It’s interesting to know that for some months, Jammu and Kashmir Government in India has banned all data services and most common of all being text SMS sending. Thus, forcefully people have to call instead of using SMS. And best benefitors of this ban are operators who are neither protesting nor taking action against this ban. This is simply because, there revenues are surging due to talking habbit of residents there i.e. more and more calls are being generated and thus operators are earning huge too. For e.g. revenues for last year were just about INR 497 crores where as revenues till date for this year alone has crossed more than INR 800 crores.


October 25th, 2008

Talking of 3G spectrum when even 2G is not sufficient in India

Today’s front page news article “Call drops, busy routes: What’s wrong with cells?” in Delhi’s print edition of Times of India , one of the National dailies here shows just that.

According to this article, mobile users are growing at the rate of approx. 40% year on year and thus there are complains of customers like there are frequest call drops, disconnections, route congestion messages etc. Ultimately when customers are not able to talk on mobile, they switch to land line. Most operators cite scarce spectrum as the key reason. But amazingly, even after knowing the problem they don’t do anything on their infrastructure front. They should first increase their infrastructure to strengthen the 2G space instead of blindly trying to get 3G spectrum. This will only add to customer frustation.

One good solution that I can think of is operators brining in Femtocells fast. They can leverage the existing situation as anyway customers are using their broadband internet as well as landline for calling due to spectrum crisis. So these operators can very well promote femtocells to these customers as an alternative to cell-towers and get them to switch back to mobiles and use their broadband for femtocells instead. This will help operators in following ways:

  • De-congest the macro network at both work and residential sites as when femtocells are their calls will be travelling from mobile to femtocells to broadband to mobiles
  • Reduce infrastructure installation and maintenance costs.
  • Be more environment friendly.
  • Be accessible to more subscribers on current infrastructure in interiors of the country too.

Femtocells will help the customers in the following ways:

  • Minimisation of bills as calls are going through braodband route.
  • Better clarity.
  • Better connectivity.
  • Better data speeds.
  • No call drops.
  • No busy routes.

Operators should soon do something about this issue or else the day is not far when somebody will invent some technology that bypasses the operators…


October 22nd, 2008

Mobile Advertising is still in its early stage of existence…

Advertising on mobile when compared to the other advertising mediums, such as TV, radio and print, still makes up a tiny percentage at just 0.4 percent. Even in Japan, which can be considered the most advanced mobile advertising market, it’s about 1 percent. But also, with high uncertainty in world economies, advertisers will be reducing their budgets in radio and print, and focusing on the Internet and mobile.

As per my recent conversations with advertisers in India, some still stick with the traditional media like print and radio, but still some others are getting determined slowly that print and radio won’t work, and are more costly. Although mobile is new and more difficult to understand, they are getting attracted to it by the promise of better ROIs.

Some people in India feel that SMS (which is more like mobile marketing than it is mobile advertising) will be forgotten or will become a concept of the past with iPhone coming in and better data rates. But, I feel SMS is here to stay and will remain there for atleast next 5-7 years. It’s a major revenue earner for mobile marketing agencies. It may just be a part of marketing but sooner or later will definietly be combined by innovators to become part of advertising and then it will further boost the confidence of now partially hesitent advertisers.


October 21st, 2008

ID to Buy a Mobile Phone

Many governments around the world have started asking their operators to ask for proof of residence, photos and identity proof (preferably some government id like passport or driving licence etc.) for new connections.

In UK, however, government is making it mandatory for all mobile phones new or old to be registered by their owners. In wake of rising terrorism and bomb blasts etc. in India, government herte too is taking similar steps for new connections. But, until all old mobiles are registered, it will be difficult to curb terrorism as most recent cases of bombings have been conducted by unemployed poor people of the country.

Typically, when other countries have introduced mandatory registration for prepay subscribers which are genrally more than post-paid subscribers – the operators are reporting a drop in subscriber numbers of up to 10 percent.

3 comments October 20th, 2008

Mobile Advertising post Global Meltdown

I have been interacting with quiet a few telecom media people as well as top management cadre of large companies for quiet some time now. As such large number of people from many companies used to say that in Indian terms, we are talking too advanced when I used to talk about enterprise level mobile applications. As such it is true too, to certain extent as even companies making mobile applications have most of their clients abroad and a miniscule number in India.

But, post Global meltdown, scenario has gone worse. Below are some of the views of companies around the world including India:

  • Indian companies: It will take atleast two years for us to include mobile in our core business strategy.
  • MNCs in India: Our offices in other countries too set aside just about 1% of total budgets in mobile media.
  • MNCs in Asia Pacific region: Growth of wireless media is inevitable and thus if we don’t embrace mobile advertising in the next few years, we will be out of markets. 

On enquiring as to why these companies don’t adopt mobile as one of their core business strategy, following reasons were cited as biggest barriers by brands in India:

  • Lack of Tracking Tools/Metrics for campaign planning,
  • Resistance to set aside already limited budget kept for use in traditional media.

I feel, the same reasons must be true for foreign companies too.

October 18th, 2008

Revenues from Mobile Data Services to see Continued Growth inspite of Global Meltdown

The collapse of the mighty global financial system has triggered a series of chain reactions in India, but one sector stands strong and that is Telecom according to Mr. Prem Behl, a high profile personality from Telecom domain, I was speaking to, earlier this week. 

Big losers in the global financial crisis in this country are likely to be the iconic software firms like Infosys, Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Much of their business comes from the erstwhile giant investment banks and that could affect their profitability in the short term. In the medium-to-long term, however, these companies are likely to have greater resilience given their innovative approach in the past to hunting out new markets and customers.

According to Mr.Behl, Telecom is the only sector in India which stands strong and has not been affected much apart from slight lowering of the Average Revenue per User (ARPU). A new report from Juniper Research supports his statement and states that ­Increasing adoption of messaging and content services, aided by increased availability of 2G and 3G-based mobile networks, is expected to push operator-billed data revenues in the mobile markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China (collectively referred to as the BRIC economies) from $26.2 billion in 2008 to more than $48.3 billion by 2013.

October 16th, 2008

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