Month: February 2013
Indian telecommunication services sector remains negative for 2013 considering increasing regulatory costs for incumbent and new operators. The issue of regulatory uncertainty has now been replaced by increasing costs which will impact the financial profile of most operators, including incumbents over the short to medium term.
The cancellation of telecom licences and muted response to their re-auction have resulted in consolidation in the telecom industry. In line with the agency’s expectations, telcos have raised tariffs and/or tweaked plans to increase average revenue per minute, which will lead to an improvement in their operating performances and partly off-set the negative impact of the recent regulatory developments.
It is expected that there is limited room for further consolidation in the industry. While there may be some corporate actions involving small operators, any M&A activity involving large operators is not likely in the short-term.
As the government has already taken major policy decisions regarding the telecom sector, it is expected lesser regulatory uncertainty for the sector in the near term. The regulatory overhang is likely to fade out over the next 12 months. This will enable a fresh inflow of capital into the sector.
With an already high subscriber base, there is limited opportunity for telcos to grow revenue by adding new subscribers. Therefore, it is expected of them to now focus on other growth levers like higher mobile data services adoption, value-added services, tariff hikes, among others. Higher mobile data services adoption will be driven by the availability of compatible mobile devices, affordable data plans and rapidly rising internet users.
Answering Your Call: How to buy a phone system??
|So you want to buy a new phone system for your office, but now that you have started doing some research you have come to the disheartening realization that all the options you’ve seen, the conflicting information you’ve been told, and complex technical language you’ve read have left you more confused than before you started. Is there anyone that can help?
With his book Answering Your Call, author and phone system insider Jeff Weiner simplifies the entire process, providing you with a easy to understand step-by-step guide to finding the phone system that is sure to meet your ever changing business needs.
|He begins his book by explaining the core concepts behind phone systems. Voice over IP, Circuit switching etc… If there’s a confusing term that you’ve come across in your search for the perfect phone system, Jeff explains it here.
Next, he explores the inner workings of any properly designed Voice of IP (VoIP) network: cabling, switches, and even debunks some of the commonly held misconceptions surrounding VoIP and circuit-switched phone systems.
Finally, Jeff takes a look at the popular features available, providing you the inside scoop on what features you’ll want to incorporate into your new phone system. Features like: Call Center queues (some people call them hunt groups or ACDs), Unified Messaging, silent call recording, conference bridges, interactive voice response, wireless handsets, and integration with tools like Outlook and other CRM packages.
This book is available commercially on Amazon.com.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) the regulatory body seeks to ensure Quality Of Service (QOS) across telecom operators in the country. On 6 January 2012 it outlined several guidelines via Directive no. 308-5/2011-QOS dubbed as TELECOM CONSUMERS PROTECTION REGULATIONS 2012, as earlier we shared on TelecomTalk. On 21 March 2012 these directives need to be implemented starting today.
BSNL will be the first telecom operator which has already announced the implementation of all new guidelines for its prepaid 2G and 3G Mobile service and all other operators will also follow the same.
Following are the benefits the new guidelines bring to consumers:
Simplicity & standardization of tariff vouchers across operators.
Transparency for Value Added Services activated on the account.
Information on premium rate VAS.
Changes which would be ‘seen’ by consumers from now onwards:
New Start Up Kit:
Will contain only the SIM with no rate plan attached (no confusion of tariffs for the customer).
New Vouchers :
Only 3 voucher types will exist (Plan Voucher, Top-up, STV) (easy to differentiate between talktime vouchers against tariff benefits).
Plan Vouchers :
These would offer only the basic plan, with no talktime attached.
Top-Up Vouchers :
These would provide only talktime (in Rupees) with main account validity.
STV Vouchers :
These would provide only rate cutters, and no talktime.
Colour Coding :
The 3 vouchers would be segregated by different colours, for ease of understanding by consumers.
Usage information :
Consumers would be informed of the usage after every call / data session / VAS activation. While this may be already available with several operators, the same has been now made mandatory.
Past Usage information:
Consumers can now avail their usage over the last 180 days by paying a fee of Rs 50 per request. Details that would be made available are Calls / SMS / VAS / Roaming.
Account related information:
Consumers can also avail information about their accounts – Tariff plan activated / Account Balance / Active VAS details are now available via SMS to the customer.
Premium VAS Service:
Consumers will be informed that the number they are calling is chargeable, and after a ‘beep’ the VAS service would be connected, thereby offering consumer greater awareness of the tariffs.
Do let us know if you are happy with the new amendment , will this help the customers in better transparency do share your views via comments
Nationwide mobile number portability by February: Telecom minister Kapil Sibal
NEW DELHI: Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal today said nationwide Mobile Number Portability (MNP) is expected to be rolled out by February next year, which will allow users to retain their numbers even if they move from one state to another.
“For the timely implementation of the National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2012, the Department of Telecom has finalized broad agenda for next three months from December 2012 to February 2013,” Sibal said at the ‘India Telecom 2012’ here.
Some of the key initiatives in course to be completed by February 2013 are approval of spectrum assignment and pricing, unified licences regime, M&A guidelines, finalization of guidelines for spectrum sharing, creation of fund for R&D and manufacturing and of course, MNP on a nationwide basis, he added.
Currently, a user is allowed to switch to a different operator within his/her circle, while retaining his/her phone number.
Under NTP 2012, the government had envisaged implementing MNP on a nationwide level allowing users to retain their mobile numbers even when they shift to a different telecom circle.
India has 22 telecom circles.
According to Trai, by the end of October 2012, about 75.14 million subscribers have submitted their requests to different service providers for porting their mobile number.
In the month of September 2012, total number of subscribers who have submitted their request for MNP stood at 5.36 million.
Govt panel wants BlackBerry to provide ‘PIN details’ of all its handsets
NEW DELHI: A government panel has recommended that BlackBerry be asked to provide access to ‘PIN’ details of all its handsets across the globe to enable intelligence agencies in the country to track messages exchanged between Indian subscribers and those living abroad.
Currently, Canada’s BlackBerry has provided PIN details of handsets “that have been officially shipped to India and has not provided data pertaining to other countries due to privacy and legal provisions”, according to a telecom department (DoT) report reviewed by ET.
Each BlackBerry handset has a unique pin that cannot be changed and is locked to the phone. The panel in its report, dated 31 December, has said that if incoming and outgoing messages from BlackBerry users abroad to customers here can only be tracked if the government has access to PIN details of the “entire world”.
Such demands are unlikely to be acceptable to BlackBerry and may reinforce perceptions that India is a difficult place to do business.
On December 10, BlackBerry had demonstrated interception solutions it had put in place to address security concerns raised by India. Representatives from the telecom ministry as well as the Intelligence Bureau were present for these tests that were carried out Vodafone’s data centre in Sahas (Mumbai).
In its report on testing the interception facilities provided by BlackBerry, this panel has proposed that India must take over the monitoring infrastructure built by the Canadian company in Mumbai. The handset maker had set up servers and other interception facilities in Mumbai in 2011 after India had threatened to shut down BlackBerry services.
The panel has also recommended a slew of additional demands that is set to intensify the long-running dispute between security agencies here and the Canadian firm. It has recommended that BlackBerry be mandated to provide access to the web-browsing facilties on its handsets on a readable format (decrypted) and also allow intelligence agencies here to track e-mail attachments on a real-time basis by April 2013.
The Blackberrry Messenger (BBM) service is popular globally, but chats exchanges through this service are difficult to intercept. The intelligience agencies have alleged that the terrorists involved in the Mumbai attack of 2008 used this service to evade survailence.
The report also adds that during the tests, web-browsing facilities on Blackberry handsets were intercepted using solutions offered by the Canadian company, but these were not in the readable format. It adds that BlackBerry had offered to develop and deploy a new solution by April 2013 to address this concern.
BlackBerry has also presented an ‘intermediate solution’ to track attachments on email and is in the process of developing a ‘final solution’ to address this issue, the panel’s report said. It further adds that BlackBerry would also provide a solution to enable intelligence agencies determine if messages exchanged on BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) have been ‘delivered’ and ‘read’.
The government had mandated all mobile operators to connect their networks with the interception facilities set up by BlackBerry in Mumbai by 2012-end. The report states that all telcos with the exception of MTNLBSE 0.86 % had complied. All mobile phone companies are currently testing the interception facilities on their networks and these are being undertaken in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.
How Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel are trying to woo young customers
ByGulveen Aulakh, ET Bureau | Dec 27, 2012, 12.01 PM
Indian mobile operators are aggressively wooing the youth with low-cost data tariff plans and freebies as they bet on increased data use by youngsters to revive their sagging profits.
NEW DELHI: Indian mobile operators are aggressively wooing the youth with low-cost data tariff plans and freebies as they bet on increased data use by youngsters to revive their sagging profits.
Aircel, owned by Malaysian telecom firm Maxis, for instance, now offers free talk time for each purchase made at online shopping portal Yebhi.com, while Reliance Communications has tied up with Facebook and Whatsapp for monthly plans at rock-bottom prices.
The top three players, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, have tied up with RIM to offer BlackBerry instant messaging service at 129 a month to college students, a massive discount over the handset maker’s actual tariff plan.
“Young people spend more time on mobile phones consuming data than consuming voice,” Bharat Bambawale, global brand director at Bharti Airtel said. “They hardly ever speak to anyone on a paid call and would use Whatsapp or BlackBerry Messenger to keep in touch with their friends,” he told ET.
After the initial boom years, Indian mobile service providers have been facing severe margin pressure.
Over the last year, they have cut dealer commissions, distribution costs and purged inactive customers to drive profitability in business.
Now, these firms have realized that they will have to rely on data services-oriented models to bring in revenues as the Indian youth takes to internet-on-mobile and social media at a lightning pace.
Reliance Communications this week announced a partnership with social media giant Face book to offer unlimited messenger service at 16 a month for its GSM subscribers.
The Anil Ambani-owned telco has also tied up with instant messaging provider Whatsapp for a similar plan at the same tariff.
Falling prices of smartphones contribute heavily to this trend.
Mary Meeker, partner and analyst at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, said India reported the sharpest surge in the number of smartphone users at 44 million people using smartphone in the fourth quarter of 2012, 52% more than a year earlier.
The country is now ranked fifth in the number of smartphone users.
According to consumer activists, the total money with the company for talk-time that now cannot be used may run into crores of rupees even if just the lowest refill of Rs 180 is considered for each subscriber.
Under the facility of mobile number portability (MNP), while switching over to one operator from another, both the companies need to coordinate and exchange certain information, such as the unique porting code UPC), to transfer the number. But since the company has virtually closed down all its operations, it has left no option for many consumers and other operators but to go for a new number.
Sources at other cell phone operators in the city also confirmed the fact that MNP was a process to be carried out for subscriber by both the operators involved.
“Unless and until the existing operator provides the UPC of a customer to his new operator, the switchover cannot happen,” said a source from a cell service operator. “As all of Uninor’s operations are shut, the process will not materialize or may be considered invalid.”
Experts said there could be two solutions to the problem: either the government can ask the company to technically operate till the time people switch over or it can allot new UPCs to the companies to absorb consumers.
A Uninor statement said it was helpless in the face of the Supreme Court order to shut down, but was looking at solutions.
A company statement read: “The only fact here is that the SC ordered an immediate closure and we could not have stood in violation of the SC order. Unlike in other circles, we have not been able to give adequate notice or help customers port out. This is not the manner in which Uninor would have wanted to close down the business in Mumbai. Having complied with the court order, we are in dialogue with the authorities to explore any solution that allows our customers to port out to other operators of choice.”
Achintya Mukherjee of the Bombay Telephone Users’ Association (BTUA) said the authorities should have spared a thought for the common consumer.
“We deplore the action taken by the authorities to suddenly disconnect all subscribers of Uninor, leaving them in confusion,” Mukherjee said. “Where should the consumer go if he or she wants to retain the number and get back the pre-paid amount? The decision process could have easily avoided this inconvenience to consumers,who are now running pillar to post for redressal.”
Mukherjee said the bulk of the massive sum of money locked up in the entire action would be of pre-paid consumers. The average number of pre-paid subscribers across the board in the industry is 94 to 95 percent of mobile users.
“Last heard, the average revenue of Uninor per user (ARPU) was a satisfactory Rs. 180/- per user. This does not mean that the money involved would be necessarily a multiple of Rs.180/- x 18 lakh users for the Mumbai circle. There are many consumers who recharge for more than a months of usage. In some cases, like bulk users (where companies with their entire employee population is registered as users of UNINOR) would have substantial amounts paid in advance. It is frightening to imagine the consequences for such parties, settling their accounts,” he added. However company sources were unable to comment on the complaints of pending pre-paid amounts.
What is MNP?
MNP or mobile number portability (MNP) allows consumer to transfer his/her existing mobile phone number from one mobile phone network provider to another mobile phone provider so that if you change mobile phone networks you do not have to give everyone a new number. The process in which you can retain your existing mobile number even after changing the operator is called MNP.
For this consumer has to just send an SMS — PORT(space)(10 digit number) — to 1900. Then the operator has to allot you an UPC code which can then be taken up with the new operators for connection. Ideally, within six days the new operator should allot you the connection as in between process of checking documents and security clearance is conducted.
The Times Of India
These are tough times for most mobile operators. The category, among the most marketed and advertised, has players grappling to upsell and increase the bottomline.
A tough job given that India is thought to be nearly saturated on the subscriber-end and stagnating on the new acquisition front. Every player worth its salt is looking at adding to revenues by slicing and dicing the existing userbase.
While Airtel tries to form the connect by using teeny-bopper college kids, Vodafone seeks to ‘Delight’ with its tailormade offers and Idea tries to spread the Honey Bunny virus to an entire nation, the fifth largest player in the market Aircel has opted to go the route of selling extra benefits to the customers. The campaign is striving to establish a human connect for the brand, according to Prasoon Joshi, chairman, McCann WorldGroup India.
The campaign titled ‘Joy of a Little Extra’ consists of three 30 second commercials depicting various slice of life situations that range from grown men jumping with joy on getting an extra run in a friendly neighbourhood match, to a classroom of kids feeling elated when their teacher gives them a few minutes more to complete an exam.
The third ad shows the joy felt by a housewife on getting an unexpected bonus while shopping for vegetables. Joshi adds, “Simple joys of life are the most precious ones to cherish and the brands that deliver are the ones that the consumers will love. Hence there is a conscious attempt to dial up the ‘human connect’ of the brand.”
Research revealed that the starting point has to be growing the voice business revenues by attracting non-Aircel, 2nd or 3rd sim owners. Further insights on multi-sim owners showed that they display value-seeking behaviour.
Thus the cellular brand, which sees its broad demographics comprising of students and young working professionals, decided to come up with this campaign. Says Anupam Vasudev, chief marketing officer, Aircel, “We are a challenger. In this multi-sim market the wallet share is important to us and with this campaign we are looking at driving up consumption and hence increasing the value-share, as well.”
The current execution is in line with the brand’s simple messaging format that has been in place since the pocket internet days featuring ace cricketer M S Dhoni to the recent launch of the ‘One India tariff plan — One nation one rate’ campaign. While it may not give the brand distinct imagery, it may just help Aircel climb up the value-chain in the short-run, feels the agency head on a leading telecom player, on condition of anonymity.
The challenge for the brand which is relatively a late-entrant is to play the value game without being seen as cheap service provider, a trap that some players have got sucked into, according to Girish Trivedi, co-founder & director, Monk Consulting, a research and advisory firm.
According to the figures by Trai, Aircel is seen predominantly as a South brand is one of the few operators that has managed to show positive net additions during the last six months of 2012.
The brand has been for some time focusing on value of rather than the number of customers. For instance, its partnership with Apple was a step to lift the brand image and get high end subscribers. With this campaign it’s looking to cement an association with its loyal user base as well as to generate new trials and hoping that the ‘human touch’ would help achieve a lasting, deeper connect.
Sourabh Mishra, national planning head, bates finds the campaign a little cliched, and it reminds him of many similar ads across categories. The cliche is both in terms of the story it tells as well as the way it is told or the treatment, he feels and in a category that has some well etched brand communication like Vodafone, Idea, Airtel and DoCoMo, this counts as a wasted opportunity.
Whatever be the case, the reality is that the telecom market is at the tipping point and the buoyant story of the last few years is becoming exactly that — a thing of the past — with the pressures on the margins and the topline. For all brands, the growth has to come from other revenue opportunities.
The game is changing fast and in this changing landscape all telecom brands need to get their act quickly in place, else the ‘Rule of Three’ (famously propounded by Prof Jagdish Sheth and Dr. Rajendra Sisodia) that has happened in other industries may soon lead to the next wave of consolidation in which only the fittest (or the richest) survive.
BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO BE…!
What started as the petty issue as changing my tariff plan, has gained so much of momentum. When I had issues with my telecom company regarding the billing and tariff plans, like any other normal customer I asked my service provider to look into my matter. However, after so much of cajoling and persuasion my issue still remained unresolved. It was only when I decided to PORT that they seem to awake. Suddenly I was abuzz with so many calls and numerous lucrative offers.
I ask to myself, that do I have to lie every time to get even the basic plans that I deserve. Why there is so much of discrepancies. Why there is no proper customer redressal cell. I dug deep and found so many uneven practices prevalent with the telecom companies. On further investigation, I found I was not alone. There were numerous like me trapped in this whimsical web. May be a thousand ten thousand or million more, nobody knows. This is when I decided to take up the issue with the TRAI.
I always believed in, “Be the change you want to be.” And see my initiatives have born fruits. I am lucky to have your support and cooperation. Remember together we can and together we will.
Keep ushering your support and best wishes.
MD & CEO
Vodafone Essar Limited,
Peninsula Corporate Park,
8t January, 2013
Customer complain No: Service Request Number: 533804123
It gives me immense pleasure in writing to you when others from your company seem to turn deaf ear to my complaints. I am proud and content with the mere thought that there is at least one responsible in the company who looks at our matter the way it should be addressed. To abreast you a little this is my second consecutive letter to your costumer care concerned authorities.
Now it feels strange when I get auto responders telling me that my grievances will be addressed within two working days and then there’s an absolute silence on your part. Tell me Marten, Is there any human entity in your company who renders help for a genuine cause. After six long days of waiting for my phone to ring all I get is a template saying that the company tried to reach me but I was not available. I wonder what kind of network you have when you can’t contact one of your distressed customers. Or am I suppose to eat breathe and sleep with my mobile waiting for that dreaded call from your company?
Marten, while you are busy converting Vodafone into money making machine, others from your so called esteemed company seem to ignore the fact that everything depends on its consistent customer base. I stress on the word,? consistent? cause Vodafone seem to be more busy on increasing the customer base rather than retaining it.
Can’t you see I have been suffering and having horrid dreams? And it’s just not about me; there may be million more that may be undergoing through the same trauma. It has been ten long years I have been overcharged. I have been charged for the services which should have been absolutely free to me. And then your customer care hardly seems to care much. They often come up with concocted stories and alibis. Let alone care, they did not even bother to talk to me and understand my issues.
Marten, Media refers to you as one genuine person willing to take the company to another level. But please don’t do it at the cost of your esteemed customers.
As far as media is concerned, I have kept few mail ids handy to forward it to them. My journalists friends would be too happy to spice up the story before getting it into the print. However, as if now I have restrained myself. A prompt action is all I am looking at this stage.