Short messaging shot through the roof this New Year’s eve with an unprecedented 180 per cent increase in volumes to 60 million SMS compared with last year’s 21 million.
This is even without adding SMS numbers from all the circles of Essar-Hutch and Idea Cellular. The growth in SMS numbers is even higher than the 112 per cent growth in cellular subscription from 9730,543 to 20725,950 between 2002 and 2003.
Compared to a normal day, SMS traffic shot up by over 400 per cent this New Year. Hutch in Delhi, for instance has recorded a high of 12.6 million SMS on December 31 and January 1.
The company records a volume of 2.5 million SMS on a normal day and had reported 4 million messages last New Year’s eve and during Diwali. Idea Cellular, which gets about 10 lakh messages on a normal day from 4 lakh subscribers in Delhi, reported over 5 million SMS this New Year’s eve.
The fact that subscribers are messaging more is also reflected in the number of SMS per subscriber which has gone up for most operators.
Airtel which recorded 25 million SMS across its 15 circles, saw the number of messages per subscriber going up from 4 last year to just over 5 at the end of 2003.
BPL Mobile, which offers services in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu saw 7.1 million messages as compared to 4 million last year which increased its per subscriber SMS rate to 5 from 4. The company also said that its talktime went up to 37 million minutes, which is 150 per cent higher than last year’s usage.
Even non-metro circles such as Punjab is heavy on messaging. Spice Telecom’s messages per subscriber went up to 10 from 7 last year with over 7.5 million SMS recorded on New Year’s eve. Even Escotel with operations in Haryana, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh saw the SMS traffic go up to 2 million, which is six times compared to a normal day.
Apart from messaging, cellular operators also made a killing on other data applications. BPL Mobile, for instance, reported 48,000 song dedications, 24,500 multi-media messaging, 1,13,000 picture messaging and ringtone downloads on New Year.
SMS and data contributed to 40 per cent of the cellular operators’ revenues. With increase in SMS volumes, analysts point out that the share is expected to increase this quarter.
However, operators also point out that SMS tariffs have come down significantly from Rs 2 to as low as 25 paise being offered by some operators.