Mobile internet service, the new frontier for telcos

Oct 21 2013, 08:20 IST
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Vodafone’s browsing revenues now contribute almost 8%, up from 5% a year ago. Vodafone’s browsing revenues now contribute almost 8%, up from 5% a year ago.
SummaryVodafone, Airtel see surge in data revenue; CDMA players lose out.

To cash in on mobile phone users’ growing appetite for data, telecom companies are indulging in a host of initiatives — from providing free Facebook access to driving around buses fitted with net-ready smartphones.

While Airtel is trying to offer customised data usage schemes for consumers, Vodafone is reaching out to consumers through its awareness programmes.

One such campaign by Airtel is the Re 1 video store, where consumers get to access videos for Re 1. This has helped bring in a large number of first-time data users into Airtel’s fold.

“With the launch of the Re 1 video store, traffic volumes on Airtel Live increased to a whopping 22 million in July 2013 from 12 million in March 2013. Of the total 12 million Re 1 video store users, 4 million were first-time mobile internet users,” the company said in an email reply. About 50 per cent of the total Re 1 video store users are from rural areas.

Other initiatives announced by the company, include launch of Free Zone in India with Google and a limited-period free Facebook access for prepaid customers.

On the other hand, Vodafone is focusing on provide awareness to mobile consumers directly through various initiatives in both urban and rural areas.

The company is touching base with customers through ROTO stores or ‘Retail of tomorrow’, which provides a personalised retail concept, helping customers explore mobile internet and check out apps.

Vodafone’s another initiative called the Mobile Internet Bus is touring tier II and tier III cities in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, UP and West Bengal stoking people’s desire for internet access on their phones. Equipped with smartphones, the Mobile Internet Bus provides live demos and free surfing for people to give them a feel of the virtual world.

“Mobile internet bus provides us an opportunity to interact with masses, building awareness on the relevance of mobile internet and the umpteen possibilities that it opens up in life,” said an email reply from Vodafone.

A similar campaign is also doing the rounds in rural parts of Rajasthan. Mobile Internet Van and Gammat Jammat are two initiatives to educate children in the villages of Maharashtra and Goa. “We are also building content partnerships, simplifying pricing, educating retailers and offering choice to customer based on their interests and consumption patterns,” said the reply.

With the initiatives on track, Vodafone has seen a surge in data revenues, which contributed a quarter to their growth in Q2 of this fiscal.

“Our browsing revenues now contribute almost 8 per cent, up from 5 per cent a year ago. The low denomination packs and initiatives like the Mobile Internet Bus help us tap customers who are at the bottom of the pyramid,” said the email reply.

CDMA players, however, are yet to break ground with their handsets.

“The problem with CDMA operators like is that we do not have data compatible handsets in the low price band. Hence, we are focusing on providing cheaper handset options to our consumers,” said Sandeep Yadav, head of data and smartphone business, MTS India.

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* With Re 1 video store, traffic on Airtel Live increased to 22 million in July from 12 million in March

* Vodafone’s browsing revenues now contribute almost 8%, up from 5% a year ago

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