In the recent years, Mobile Internet Services has redefined the way people use Mobile Telephony. It has brought a revolution in lifestyle space and the use of mobile telephony is not only restricted towards voice services but also as data and lifestyle enhancement services. In the current scenario India is experiencing a shift towards the high use of mobile devices for the internet access and surfing. The use of internet on mobile is becoming necessity with the growing consumer awareness and need to connect to the world. Initiatives which simplify and enrich people’s lives are fueling the penetration of internet in the country. Hence the focus is on bringing exciting and relevant services in the domains of entertainment, information, convenience and life assistance. Some specific areas that will take off faster than the others are multi player gaming, bill payments, travel enquiries via Rail and air, productivity trackers and of course, social networking and video and audio streaming and downloads.
Fundamentally, customer education shall play a key role in increasing mobile internet penetration across operators. We see a definitive need in this area; customers today aren’t aware of how to use data on their phones. A significant increase in mobile internet users will happen when more consumers are educated about the benefits via a systematic process of on-boarding. Right from the time new consumers enter a network, we shall have to diligently and smartly coach them on how to use data. Additionally, sustained investment in enhancing data networks, handset bundling and ease of accessibility shall result in more consumers adopting data on their phones. Content is another area that shall spur growth; specifically since content alone serves to address the entertainment and infotainment needs of consumers. A methodical approach to procuring and delivering content seamlessly via the medium of the mobile phone shall generate greater awareness and we shall see consumers adopting mobile internet as a substitute to TV, which currently serves their primary infotainment/entertainment needs. Additionally, a combination of seamless experience and speed shall add value; thus spurring consumers with specific needs to adopt mobile internet.
Tata DOCOMO’s internet subscriber base forms a significant chunk of our overall data VAS customers and the mobile data business has been a key growth engine in the last one year. We’re growing our data user base by about 7-8% month on month.
Tata DOCOMO has been at the forefront of positioning various data packs/plans in the market that suits the various needs and requirements of our customers. We were the first ones in the industry to launch a ‘daily pass’ for pre-pay customers offering 50 MB of data usage for a day at the price of just Rs 5. Similarly, we launched the first ever mid segment pre-pay data pack priced at Rs 48 offering 2GB data usage for a period of 30 days. This pack addressed the needs of consumers who required a dedicated quantum of data for their entertainment and infotainment needs. Currently, in India, we see a trend of users who want to experience fair data usage on their mobile phones and are willing to up their commitment so long as the quantum of data offered is commensurate to their needs.
We are observing that more and more pre-pay consumers are adopting data; a trend borne by the fact that we are adding 95% of users on a monthly basis only from pre-pay segment. In the coming years, we expect most of the pre-paid consumers be self sufficient via data on their mobile phones.
With the introduction of lower priced smartphones, India has achieved one of the highest growth rates for smartphones in the world. We believe that this will result in more people accessing the internet through their mobile device than through a PC by next year itself. It’ll also change the nature of usage from formal and official to more personal and individual and people will consume more and more rich content in the form of apps, video, audio downloads, etc.
(The author is A P Sriram, Chief Operating Officer, Karnataka Circle, Tata Teleservices Limited)