Indian Telecom Operators Need To Monetize Their Mobile Data: Uptake Of VAS Is Still Poor

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Mobile data consumption in India is steadily growing due to increasing number of smartphones and greater availability of data-driven services. This time, businesses are quite liberal for ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) module, means employees can use their own devices for the official purposes.

Despite of these, at present, Indian operators are struggling to generate higher “Average Revenue Per User” (ARPU).  Undisputedly , there’s an intense competition in telecom industry, but a significant rise in mobile subscriber base is opening ‘a door of opportunity’ for telecom vendors. Definitely, monetization of mobile data would offer a great scope for revenue generation. Indeed, operators need to frame new business module and develop new strategy to meet the end-users demand in order to generate more revenue.

As far as Value Added Services (VAS) is concerned, Indian telecom vendors are still ill-starred to leverage on these services.  According to a recent report, Indian VAS industry is estimated to reach $15 billion by 2015—presently, contributing to around 15% of operators’ total revenue. Ironically, India has already adopted 3G and 4G services, despite of this, VAS adoption is still not up to the benchmark level.


Airtel had 38.7 million customers base till the end of June this year and it succeeded to generate RS 40/month mobile data ARPU. Although, the telco generated INR 4,595 million mobile data revenue in June 2012, but that was just 4.3% of its total revenue. On the other side, Vodafone had 31 million customer base in June 2012 and it succeeded to manage INR 2,967 Million revenue from mobile data–just 8.1% of total mobile revenue.

However, just considering to two Indian telcos (Airtel and Vodafone) couldn’t show off the whole scenario (mobile data revenue generation), but it gives some idea that how much revenue is being contributed by mobile data to the telcos’ overall revenue.

In July of 2012, the number of wireless subscribers plunged to 913.49 million from 934.09 million in June of this year, but the notable point is here that the number of active mobile subscribers reached to peak during July. I appreciate to Indian telecom department’s decision, asked operators to clear database of the unused numbers. I have already described how new strategy of the department of telecom could boost ARPU for the operators. The main problem in India is that single subscriber keeps numbers of SIMs and they choose the operators accordance to the plannings offered by the operators that suited them most.

Today, the operators need to focus on latest roaming trends, revenue assurance, mobile payments and regulatory and policy reforms. In addition to these, they also need to concentrate on deploying new services, reducing stir round and subscribers’ base expansion.


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