Mobile — VAS
By the end of this year, the Indian telecom industry is expected to cross a new landmark to herald the start of 3G services. While the government is keen to do it quickly and raise a large amount of money through competitive bidding process, service providers who will bid, need to ensure that overbidding does not lead to higher end user charges for 3G resulting in lower adoption. To prepare for this change, the telecom operators are already investing in newer systems some of them investing as much as a quarter of a billion dollars in capex.
The expected kick-off of the much delayed 3G licensing process by the Government will bring in more bandwidth. This will help operators in each circle to build better brand loyalty based on quality differentiators and more services.
In the upcoming 3G regime, one mass appealing product is Mobile VoIP which will bring down the cost of international calls by as much as 50%.
3G—the Biggest Bonanza
According to my observations, the 3G spectrum auction will be the most momentous landmark, as the successful bidders will stand-out from the rest due to the improved quality and scope of services provided.
While the users will have a win-win situation at hand, the operators will have a challenge at hands – upgrading networks to 3G and beating competition and the prospect of offering better services and new products.
Operators who bag the coveted license will have to be aggressive in this space to win subscribers.
The winners will introduce new services to differentiate and one such broad-based product is Mobile VoIP which will bring down the cost of international calls by as much as 50%. Case in point is O2 in Germany which initially opposed VoIP but now uses it as a differentiator.
Even though a mobile service operator doesn’t provide the service directly, it earns data services revenue from the subscriber for making VoIP calls. The 3G license holders could add about 100 million users in India who currently do not have a data plan. A UK-based mobile carrier Three has gone a step further to offer a co-branded handset with Skype to allow VoIP calls.
In October 2009 AT&T in the US allowed its iPhone users to use iPhone VoIP application on its 3G network, responding to surging customer demand (earlier, iPhone users on AT&T network could use the mobile VoIP application only through Wifi connectivity).
A mobile data subscriber can download a mobile VoIP application, iTel Mobile Dialer from REVE Systems, to make calls to any mobile or landline at considerably lower rates. While the application is very light and easy to download, the user experience with iTel Mobile Dialer is the same like making a regular phone call from the mobile handset.
So, the Indian mobile users can usher in 2011, by making VoIP calls which are cheaper on the pocket and can avoid clogged networks and dropped calls as they switch to a 3G operator retaining the same mobile number.