Airtel, the largest mobile service provider in the country, celebrated the 10th anniversary of mobile telephony in India with the launch of a first and unique initiative entitled Future Factory, which are Centres of Innovation to incubate pioneering mobile applications.
These Centres of Innovation, which will be located in Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, will provide the required infrastructure for local application developers with breakthrough ideas on mobile usage to develop hardware and software applications in conjunction with Airtel.
The four main areas of focus for Future Factory will be mobile entertainment, mobile commerce, wireless business solutions and rural applications. The first set of rural applications unfurled by Airtel include mobile pay phones, mobile reporter for data collection, mandi rate updates to obviate the role of middlemen in rural commerce, SMS printers as an alternative to telegrams and public information display boards.
“The next 10 years of the mobile revolution will be driven by the twin challenges of expanding mobile in rural markets and driving segmented applications and value added services in urban and semi-urban markets. Future Factory will systematically allow us to innovate and develop path breaking applications for mobile subscribers across the country,” observed Rajan Bharti Mittal, Joint Managing Director, Bharti Televentures Ltd, speaking on the occasion where it all began, Kolkata.
Kolkata, it may be recalled, was the first.city in India to go mobile on August 23, 1995 with the commissioning of, what was at that time, the Modi Telstra network, which was subsequently acquired by Airtel. In fact, Airtel in association with CII Eastern Region had organised a conclave titled ‘GSM 10’ in Kolkata on August 22 to commemorate 10 years of mobile telephony.
Apart from an exposition showcasing cutting edge technology applications by leading companies such as Ericsson, Intel, Nokia and of course Airtel, the event featured a panel discussion on the emerging trends in moblile telephony and its role in the country’s economic development.
The panel moderated by Director General of Cellular Operators Association of India T V Ramachandran, comprised Mats Granryd, President, Ericsson India and Sri Lanka; Siva Ramamoorthy, Sales and Marketing Director, Intel; Rajan Swaroop, Executive Director, Bharti; and Bushan Raina, Deputy Charman of CII Eastern Regional Council, wearing a candid consumer hat.
Union Minister of State for Telecommunicatons and IT Dr Shakeel Ahmad and West Bengal IT Minister Manabendra Mukhopadhay were also present at the conclave.