The trigger: a worrying decline in the industrys average revenue per user (ARPU). According to the latest report of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on the performance indicators of mobile telecom services, the industrys ARPU is down to Rs 404 in December 2004 from Rs 436 in March 2004.
This, put in the backdrop of a finding by Gartner that, globally, telcos lose around 3-5% of revenues because of technical hiccups, has the Indian majors worried. IBM, which won a contract to manage Bhartis entire IT infrastructure and applications last year, has signed up a telecom software start-up in what is billed as the first and largest deal to plug revenue leakages. Under the $10 million deal with US-based Connectiva Systems, IBM will get a software that will audit the total billing processes of Bhartis network to identify and plug revenue leakages so that billing matches talk-time exactly.
The enterprise revenue assurance software will enable Bharti to audit its wireless, wireline and broadband services. Industry sources said the implementation will be completed in two years, following which Connectiva will continue to provide annual service at $200,000 a year.
Officials of Connectiva Systems as well as IBM declined to comment on the deal. We dont want to comment on issues that are based on rumours and speculation, the IBM spokesperson said.
Bhartis spokesperson refused to comment on matters that relate to its business partners. A telecom analyst said the implemenation of Connectivas telecom assurance software in the entire billing process from the switch or exchange level to the interconnect and roaming systems is the first such in telecom industry worldwide.