We Pass On The Benefits Of Scale To The Consumer Under Our Biz Model

New Delhi: | Updated: Sep 17 2003, 05:30am hrs
Everytime a mobile user travels abroad and wishes to be accessible on his/her cell, the general practice is s/he takes an international roaming facility from the Indian cellular operators. International roaming enables the user to be available on the same number even while travelling out of the country a desirable feature for sure. However, users generally do not have any idea about what their bills are going to be when they are travelling abroad. That is, the rate at which they will be charged. Ask your mobile operator, it will tell you the rates are dependent on tariffs prevailing in the country of your visit. Matrix Cellular Services offers an alternative. The companys MD Gagan Duggal spoke with eFE explaining about their service. Excerpts:

What does your service offer
We offer local mobile numbers for USA, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Brazil, New Zealand, China, South Africa, Japan and Nepal. Many of these services are offered on contract basis for a score of countries including Japan and Brazil, the non-GSM countries, where our GSM operators cant provide roaming services.

Who are your main users How does the user benefit
The companys core user group consists of business and leisure travelers, and students going abroad for studies. We offer country-specific communication solutions, which give international travelers the following benefits: Taking a local international mobile number from Matrix means free incoming calls, free minutes of talk time, no connection charges and no security deposits. Compared with international roaming charges and tariff plans of international cellular service providers, we offer economical tariff plans.

Apart from offering connectivity in non-GSM countries like Japan and Brazil, our user pays only for the talk time used without any rental and low pulse rates too. Our customers travelling to UK enjoy per second pulse rate billing. This means that they pay only for the time duration they speak unlike an international roaming mobile number in which users are charged for the whole minute even if they speak for five seconds.

For example, for a 65 second call made from an international roaming number you will have to pay for two minutes, whereas in case of a Matrix connection the customer pays for 65 seconds, the duration for which he has used the service.

Our user also gets economical tariffs. In a foreign country if you are using an international roaming number, then even on a local call you would end up paying a hefty tariff. This means that even if you call your business associates or a friend in the neighbourhood, an exorbitant amount is added to your bill and which is also the case when they call you. The solution is to have a local call mobile number. Thus, when you make a local you pay for a local call.

For example if you are travelling to the US on a international roaming number, a local outgoing call will cost you around Rs 42 per minute. However if you have a local number, it will cost you Rs 24 per minute.

By taking a local number from Matrix, subscribers can save more than 40 per cent and 60 per cent on local outgoing and incoming mobile calls respectively, as compared to an international roaming connection from India.

The user can screen and avoid unwanted callsusing international roaming could also result in unwanted calls at odd hours because of differences in time zones. By taking a local mobile number from Matrix you can screen unwanted calls by giving your number only to those you want to stay in touch with.

Why wouldnt a user who is travelling abroad take a local number after arriving in that country Why should s/he pick up another countrys local number from India
First, the user gets the convenience of a pre-activated mobile connections/he gets a working mobile number of the destined country here in India itself. The user can make and receive calls as soon as s/he touches down at the airport.

The user is also saved from the hassle of getting proofs of various kinds. A local mobile number from Matrix does not require you to produce any legal documents proving your identity, local residence, citizenship, etc, to fulfill the criteria laid down by the local cellphone companies. All that the user needs to do is place an order on a 24-hour toll free number and the local SIM card of the country s/he wants to visit will be delivered home within 48 hours.

You said you offer competitive tariffs. How can you make this claim
We buy mobile connections from local operators in bulk which enables the company to offer you competitive rates. A local mobile connection purchased from Matrix offers a more economical tariff structure as compared to other local SIM cards or pre-paid cards one might buy on reaching the country.

What is your business model
The back-end of our business model is based on tie-ups with local networks in different countries. The company buys connections from the local cellular operators at competitive rates.

At the front-end in India, the company makes available these connections to Indians travelling abroad. In the process, we pass on the benefits of scale to the consumer, who gets the twin benefits of cost and instant local connectivity as he enters the destined country.

What are the hurdles that you face while selling your product
We have two types of international customers: Individual users, especially business people, and corporate executives. Individual subscribers understand the cost benefits that accrue to them by taking a local number instead of an international roaming number.

Then there are corporate executives or employees. These people like to carry their international roaming number simply because a call made to them on roaming is a local call for their family from India. The company does not pay for international calls made from home but they are reimbursed for international roaming bills, therefore the executives do not like to carry a local number.

Give us a user break-upcorporate and personal
Corporates contribute 30 per cent of our gross annual sales, rest comes from individual users. Our corporate customers include companies like Reliance Industries Ltd, Hero Honda Motors, ESPN Star, The Times of India, Hindustan Times, American Express, Virgin Atlantic Airways, BBC, CNN, NDTV, Sony Television, Zee Telefilms.

Individual subscribers include some personalities in public domain like Shah Rukh Khan, Yuvraj Singh, Bill Clinton, Aamir Khan, Narayan Kartikeyan, Shabana Azmi and Mohammed Kaif.