The two-day India Digital Summit concluded on a high note. While day one focussed on Internet and broadband issues, day two saw experts discuss on issues regarding mobile telephony and mobile value added services or MVAS, which is poised to be the new buzzword in India. MVAS is estimated to touch Rs 4,560 crore in India by the end of 2008. MVAS in the country stood at Rs 2,850 crore at the end of 2006.
The second day’s session began with Connecturf Managing Director and CEO, Neville Taporewalla’s, welcome remarks where he talked about the 150 million mobile subscribers in India today.
Speaking at the session, Thomas Puliyet, President, IMRB International, said, “The mobile phone has become more than a style statement. Now users can play games, listen to music, book tickets, surf the Net, etc.”
Referring to a report by the Yankee Group, he said that the wireless industry had reached adulthood. The average revenue drop per user was of 7 per cent, nearly 80 per cent of the users were in the prepaid segment. Thus voice becomes price sensitive. Therefore, operators are looking at VAS to increase revenue. The VAS market in 2007 would give rise to providers and aggregators, ringtones and downloads have 42 per cent of the market share, games and enterprises are expected to increase market share. However, the WAP market remained a dark area, Puliyet said.
On the future of MVAS, he said that 60 per cent of mobile operators would lose revenue to content aggregation. There were lot of operator challenges and intra industry challenges. Regarding 3G, the most critical issue of 3G was cost effective pricing. Would an ordinary customer be able to afford the price, he asked, adding copyright protection of content should be branded.
Reliance Communications President, Mahesh Prasad, said, “India is the fastest growing mobile market. We have crossed 150 million in 2006. There are seven million people who have never used mobile or the Internet. The mobile market is growing at 60 per cent. If we review just 2006, mobile music, gaming, news alerts, and mobile contests drove the growth. We have to start looking beyond ringtones and caller ring back tones.”
Regarding areas of focus Prasad explained that there needed to be robust search for content discovery, short codes for SMS and voice based services, real time billing to prevent revenue leakage and frauds, streamlining the partner payment process for content industry and lastly experiential marketing and advertising contextual and non intrusive differentiated context.
R K Arnold, Secreatory, TRAI, said, “2007 has begun with CAS being implemented in various towns. It’s easy to add new customers, but we need to think of retaining our customers in the mobile space. MMS, movie shots and other personalised shots are areas for getting extra revenues. 3G is going to be a revolution. We will roll out 3G soon. BSNL and MTNL are all ready for 3G. We are going to have high speed Internet access. Wimax is a segment that needs expansion.”
Regarding regulation, Arnold said, “Our approach is to have a smooth transition of evolution. TRAI has moved from a regime where fixed line has moved to mobile. We need to move in to unsolidicated stuff. Service pricing is an important issue. There should be no charge forced to customer for premium service. Research needs to be done on customer needs in India as it has been done in other countries.”