What’s next for In­dia Tele­com?

A look at some in­ter­est­ing devel­op­ments in re­cent past gives a glimpse of the times to come

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The hori­zon ap­pears cloudy like never be­fore with flash­points fea­tur­ing op­er­a­tors and reg­u­la­tors, car­ri­ers and OTT play­ers, soft­ware ma­jors and ser­vice providers, con­tent cre­ators and moral po­lice­men. That shows how tele­com has be­come the lifeblood of busi­ness and hu­man in­ter­ac­tions. A quick look at some in­ter­est­ing devel­op­ments in re­cent past gives a glimpse of the times to come.

The ser­vice op­er­a­tor who won a li­cense five years back, got li­cense to pro­vide voice ser­vices two years back, and has ready-to-go-live in­fra­struc­ture on the ground, but is silent about im­me­di­ate plans of ac­ti­vat­ing it. In­ter­est­ingly, the same group gets eu­lo­gized by the me­dia for oper­a­tional­iz­ing the world’s big­gest re­fin­ery in record time.

The new breed of com­mu­ni­ca­tion apps is nib­bling fu­ri­ously at the rev­enues of the gar­gan­tuan op­er­a­tors like pi­ran­has. One op­er­a­tor tested wa­ters of net neu­tral­ity by host­ing paid apps. This move un­der the guise of an open mar­ket­ing plat­form that will al­low cus­tomers to ac­cess mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions at zero data charges back­fired.

When such events on the hori­zon oc­cur too of­ten, putting out trends is a risk, yet the task of do­ing so is in­evitable in times of quar­terly guidance. So, here are my 12 points.


Even as mo­bile data con­tin­ues to rise steeply, voice rev­enues still make up close to an ap­prox­i­mate es­ti­ma­tion of 75 to 80 per­cent of op­er­a­tor rev­enues. Voice con­tin­ues to be the one thing that is hold­ing back Reliance Jio on­slaught. More so, with voice-over LTE show­ing no signs of en­sur­ing seam­less han­dover and in­ter­op­er­abil­ity is­sues, with Air­tel go­ing for Cir­cuit Switched Fall­Back op­tion as an in­terim op­tion which runs the risk of hem­or­rhag­ing growth.


As op­er­a­tors gain key in­sights into cus­tomer be­hav­iors, th­ese will help shape the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence to mon­e­tize all kinds of in­stances and de­vise new rev­enue streams. The pro­mo­tional cam­paigns will be tar­geted more closely and bill plans will be more planned to en­tice and get the user hooked. More­over th­ese plans and in­sights would be in real time to en­sure timely ac­cep­tance of change of plans what a user is want­ing and hence will fuel the real time user an­a­lyt­ics to en­hance cus­tomer user ex­pe­ri­ence. One can ex­pect soaring data us­age driven by at­trac­tive of­fers and the urge to stay con­nected.


Op­er­a­tors will con­tinue to lose rev­enues from cus­tomers us­ing OTT voice ap­pli­ca­tions. Some pre­dic­tions put the losses at $386 bil­lion be­tween 2012 and 2018. While the en­ter­prises switch to Lync and Skype, the un­tapped mar­kets will be prised open by apps like What­sapp. The In­dian mar­ket, which is show­cas­ing quick pace in em­brac­ing the value op­tions, will prove to be the fa­vorite hunt­ing ground for the OTT play­ers. On the In­dian stage, the Hike and Air­tel in­ter­play will in­di­cate how close an op­er­a­tor can get to an OTT player.


As busi­ness suc­cess of all hues hinge on in­ter­net, the op­er­a­tors and so­cial net­work- ing ser­vices com­pany will see a chang­ing re­la­tion­ship. To­gether they plan to bring af­ford­able ac­cess to se­lected In­ter­net ser­vices to un­der­served mar­kets by in­creas­ing ef­fi­ciency, de­vis­ing new busi­ness mod­els around the pro­vi­sion of In­ter­net ac­cess. In­ter­net.org saw the Reliance Com­mu­ni­ca­tions join hands with Face­book. More such un­ex­pected re­la­tion­ships will be seen where the part­ners take a plunge even with the un­cer­tainty about busi­ness mod­els and rev­enue po­ten­tial. While the so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies bring in new users into the op­er­a­tors’ fold, the al­liances with the op­er­a­tors com­pro­mise the net neu­tral­ity. Un­cer­tainty clouds the new par­a­digm how­ever the in­sane suc­cess of so­cial me­dia gi­ants is push­ing the op­er­a­tors into it.


The in­creas­ing us­age of smart­phones is fu­el­ing the de­mand for mo­bile broad­band. The de­ploy­ment of 4G/LTE and Wi-Fi off­loads will en­tice the cus­tomers to gorge on high band­width ser­vices on the go - from text mes­sag­ing to low la­tency live TV stream­ing. The net­works need to be op­ti­mized for wildly fluc­tu­at­ing band­width de­mands.


Man­ag­ing band­width and vol­umes across va­ri­ety of cus­tomer seg­ments and user con­cen­tra­tion di­ver­sity paves the way for BSS ar­chi­tec­tures based on pol­icy con­trol func­tion and on­line charg­ing and billing. The flood of wear­ables and con­nected de­vices are adding un­wieldy va­ri­ety to the mix. Th­ese re­vi­tal­ized BSS con­structs sim­pli­fy­ing the cre­ation, launch and man­age­ment of plans which ap­peal to tar­get cus­tomers ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion.


As com­fort level of cus­tomers with on­line in­ter­ac­tions for cus­tomer sup­port and ser­vices stead­ies, expectatio­ns of an en­dear­ing cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence across de­vices is taken for granted, The onus lies on the op­er­a­tors to make it hap­pen. In the midst of all the on­line frenzy of on­line ex­pe­ri­ence the phys­i­cal stores pro­vide the an­chor for mes­sag­ing and cred­i­bil­ity. The phys­i­cal touch­point re­tains its im­por­tance even if it may not swell the cus­tomer base sig­nif­i­cantly.


The in­ter­net is taken for granted in the new breed of wear­bles and con­nected de­vices. Th­ese de­vices are ubiq­ui­tous, low band­width hun­gry and in­te­gral part of the de­vices. The tele­com gear man­u­fac­tur­ers are work­ing fu­ri­ously to slip in a ma­chine-toma­chine con­nec­tiv­ity plat­form into the tele­com in­fra­struc­ture. And IT ser­vices com­pa­nies will work to­wards slip­ping in a plat­form to han­dle pay­ments and sup­port.


As the ecom­merce be­he­moths in In­dia go ‘app only’, the op­er­a­tors will be con­tinue to lose in­ter­net min­utes. There are strong pos­si­bil­i­ties of the loss be­ing com­pen­sated by the sell­ers in­cor­po­rat­ing richer and video in­ten­sive cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ences. More so with the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing a crit­i­cal role in making the browser the hit but­ton.


The bot­tom line for the op­er­a­tor con­tin­ues to be de­liv­er­ing con­tent. The richer the con­tent the more the consumptio­n and rev­enues. As pro­vi­sion­ing gets more com­plex the dilemma lies in how much can the op­er­a­tor di­ver­sify and how much of the pie can be shared with the con­tent de­liv­ery net­works. The es­tab­lished niche play­ers like Aka­mai con­tinue to cre­ate more value for the op­er­a­tors. Reliance Com­mu­ni­ca­tions started de­ploy­ing nextgen­er­a­tion con­tent and cloud de­liv­ery net­work. Many such ini­tia­tives will find ready us­age as the Dig­i­tal In­dia ini­tia­tive gath­ers mo­men­tum.

11 Wi-Fi OFF­LOAD:

The amount of data car­ried on mo­bile net­works is show­ing all signs of reach­ing un­man­age­able lev­els. The de­pen­dence on com­ple­men­tary net­work tech­nolo­gies for de­liv­er­ing data seems in­escapable. While mo­bile data of­fload­ing will be­come a new in­dus­try seg­ment, Wi-Fi is be­ing seen as the fron­trun­ner.


As the gov­ern­ment banned 857 porn sites, the sites have been making the best use of ad­vanced tele­com in­fra­struc­ture to prom­ise “higher-class ex­pe­ri­ence for those who of­ten visit our site” with full-length HD con­tent in 1080p across all de­vices. The site Porn­hub streams 6,000 ter­abytes of data daily – and the pre­mium so­lu­tion will be un­capped, al­low­ing for smoother video and full res­o­lu­tion.

San­jay Sharma (The au­thor, San­jay Sharma, is head of sales and mar­ket­ing for South and West Asia at s Red­knee. The views ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are his per­sonal views and do not re­flect the pub­li­ca­tions’ stand) vndedit@cy­ber­me­dia.co.in

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