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Monday, January 31, 2011

India’s First Mobile Wallet Service brought to you by AIRTEL


Airtel has launched India’s first mobile wallet service by a telecom operator.
Aimed at offering customers with an efficient alternative to cash transactions, airtel money will provide airtel customers across the country with a convenient and secure way of making payments through the ubiquitous mobile platform.
In 2010, bharti airtel was granted the license to use the Semi Closed Wallet by the Reserve Bank of India (read: Airtel Gets RBI’s Nod for Mobile Payment Service [First Step to Mobile Currency]).
Currently available in Gurgaon only, Airtel has already established partnerships with several merchants (including coffee shops, restaurants etc) to accept payments via airtel money – which will gradually be scaled up to over 3,000 merchants across the city. Airtel money will subsequently be launched in Delhi NCR and several other key cities in India.

Where can you use airtel money?

  • Load cash: Load cash on your airtel mobile by visiting your nearest airtel retail outlet [Minimum is Rs. 10, Maximum is Rs. 5,000 and monthly limit stands at Rs. 50, 000].
  • Pay bills & recharge: You will be able to use this cash in your mobile for making bill payments (electricity, gas, financial services, etc.) and recharge – Limits same as above.
  • Shop & make payments: Instead of cash, pay over-the-counter merchants such as your nearest kirana store, chemist, etc using your mobile phone. You can even sit at home and pay for services like booking movie tickets online
Airtel had recently announced a JV with State Bank of India to provide banking and financial services to millions of unbanked Indians using the mobile platform. With this launch of airtel money – airtel now offers a complete suite of financial products on mobile devices for the banked as well as unbanked population of the country.

How To use airtel money

  • Register by filling in the application form and submitting KYC documents (2 photocopies of proof-of-identity, 1 copy of proof-of-address and a passport size photograph).
  • After the above, your existing airtel SIM will be upgraded to the new 64K airtel SIM with airtel money
  • Activate your airtel money account by choosing your MPIN.
  • Load cash into your airtel money account by visiting your nearest airtel retailer
  • You are now ready to send commands through the airtel money application on your phone and transact anytime, anywhere!

Pricing/Charges

Airtel will charge a month subscription fee of Rs. 5/month and charges Rs. 5/payment.
Essentially, this is not a semi closed wallet service (as allowed by RBI) that enables you to add money, but not withdraw (instead, make payments/buy goods and services).
Question to ponder: Wondering what happens to mChek usage after this? Also, why is Airtel trying to do everything on its own (i.e. be the ngpay + mChek) and not build an ecosystem?
source

36.8% Growth in Q3 for OnMobile


OnMobile Global has said that a focus from its telecom customers –  from promoting Mobile Value Added Services to focusing on Mobile Number Portability, is likely to have an impact on business for the time being. The company reported a quarterly decline in Net Profit at a consolidated level, and a 86.44% year on year increase, even as total revenue grew significantly both sequentially (by 12.99%) and year on year (by 36.8%). In a note accompanying the results, OnMobile says that its overall Gross Margin and core business gross margins remain stable at around 73%, it’s Operating Profit Margin is flat – marginally up from 11.4% to 11.8%, and Operating Profit Margin on the core business has improved from 23.8% to 25%.


Download: OnMobile Q3-11 details
Standalone Results: Why OnMobile Is Focusing On International

While OnMobile’s revenues appear to be growing quarter on quarter, if you see the chart below, the broad trend is that profitability for the Indian business is in decline. The company usually advises that investors look at their business at an annual basis, not quarter on quarter. So, here’s the performance for the company in the Indian market, on a four-quarters timeline:

While revenue is growing, the net profit tells quite another story: as if OnMobile is running to stay at the same level of profitability, and its investments aren’t really bearing fruit. Also note that OnMobile’s entry into the content business would have led to an increase in topline, as well as increasing content costs (shown in the chart below).
On the conference call, OnMobile CEO Arvind Rao reiterated what Anil Pande, Head of VAS for Reliance Communications, had told us earlier – that growth for telecom operators in India is not coming from VAS, but from data services. This explains OnMobile’s international focus, and in India, the bet that OnMobile has taken on Dilithium, and video serving, which telecom operators will also depend on, for on-deck VAS, alongwith Caller Ringback Tunes, but it also does paint a worrying picture for the Indian market. The larger global trend, though, is moving towards off-deck, and a fragmented market, and there’s little doubt that India will follow.


International Business
Given the turbulent environment in India, OnMobile strategy of focusing increasingly on international business appears to be serving it well:
- As much as 31% of its total revenues for the quarter came from International business. They are now live with 6 countries in Latin America with Telefonica, including Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, covering 80% of its subscriber base. Remember that last year, the company had said that it intends to complete deployment in the 13 countries, in a worst case scenario, by June 2011. Revenue from Latin America was higher by 80% year on year, and the company says that it is experiencing early adoption rates. Last quarter, the company had launched in Mexico, and registered new offices in Panama, Chile, Nicaragua and Spain.
- During the quarter, it registered new offices in Uruguay, Egypt and China. In China, the company says it won an embedded deal with a major handset OEMs for “video stacks”.
- It launched ‘Music Burst’ an ‘unlimited music download and play’ product on subscription in Indonesia.
- They launched an enhanced version of their ‘My Synchronization Space’ service in one of their European Operators, which included embedding of the application on Android devices. Note that Android has a host synchronization services – Google Sync. Additionally, OnMobile expanded their offerings in the Personal Data Management space for both Android and Apple iOS devices.
Dilithium Update
- Post acquisition of Dilithium assets at the beginning of this quarter, teams have been integrated as a new product unit within OnMobile.
- Restarted the delivery of Dynamic Content Adapter product for one of the top Internet Companies in the North American market.
- Received and delivered their first order of 3G Video Gateway from a leading Telco in North America.
- This acquisition has increased OnMobile’s geographic presence by 21 countries.

Facebook to offer location-based discounts to users

Grab Your Discount Coupon

Facebook users will now be able to get discounts and special deals in shops, cafes and restaurants thanks to a new mobile phone feature.



Launched in the US last November, Facebook is expected to announce today the roll out of ‘Places Deals’ in the UK and Europe, a new service which rewards users for visits to different locations by logging their whereabouts on the site via their mobile phones.
According to source close to Facebook: “Places Deals is launching today in Europe. There are lots of retail and food partners on board, and the service is set to be really popular as increasing amount of people use the site via their mobile.”
The move is part of a growing trend which will see consumers increasingly use their mobile phones instead of credit cards. Last week it emerged that Apple’s forthcoming iPad and iPhone are expected to include a mobile payments feature that the firm hopes will replace cash and cards for millions of users.
Last year Facebook launched its Places service, which allows users to share their location with their friends by ‘checking in’ to bars, restaurants and shops via the social network’s mobile phone application.
However, until now, UK users have not been able to use the service to find out which good deals or offers available near them. Now with the ‘Deals’ service, Facebook users will be able see what offers are nearest to them at any time and share those deals with their friends.
Facebook is hosting a large event in London today, at which it is expected announce the launch of the ‘deals’ service across Europe.
When the discount service launched in the US, a developer writing on the company’s blog said: “You'll see a few different types of Deals: individual deals for a discount, free merchandise or other reward; friend deals where you and your friends claim an offer together; loyalty deals for being a frequent visitor to a place; and charity deals where businesses pledge to donate to a cause when you check in.”
It is not yet known which retailers and restaurants are on the board for the UK launch. When Places Deals launched in the US, some of the initial partners included Macys, Gap and Starbucks.
Facebook was unavailable for comment.
Ian Maude, head of Internet at Enders Analysis, said: “This move is a no brainer for Facebook. Places Deals is a combination of Foursquare meets Groupon (the popular daily discount site). It is the company’s first major move into mobile, discounts and location based advertising. I think this has the potential to be a smash hit for them.” source

Sunday, January 30, 2011

iPhone vs. Android

Many Verizon customers are asking themselves whether they should stick with the carrier's Android devices or jump ship to iOS.
PCWorld editors Tom Spring and Robert Strohmeyer both have strong views on the subject, and they're ready to present their arguments. First up, senior editor Tom Spring explains why he's had it with Android.
Read the Remaning on - http://www.pcworld.com/article/218104/head_to_head_iphone_vs_android.html

What is Contactless Mobile Payment Service and How it Works?

This service is going to be introduced in UK by this summer on selected retail stores in UK, and this service is especially introduced to pay small items like bread, cheese, soft drinks, snacks, lunch or dinner expenses. Maximum spending limit of this mobile payment service is not more than 15 Euros  per transaction, and this is set initially  in order to stop the loss to a limit when the phone gets lost or stolen. This mobile payment service is called Contactless mobile payment service.
You need to have smart phones. Those are enabled with Near field communication chips. I believe very few models have this chip inbuilt to it. You can see many new smart phones enabled with this chip in the future.  If your smart phone is in built with this chip, you need to just go near to the Wi-fi device which is kept in the store and by just waving your smart phone you can pay the amount for the transaction.
Current suitable smart phone enabled with Near field communication chips is currently Google Nexus S and there will be plenty of models going to come, which has Near field communication chip in the future.

See What GOOGLE MOBILE APPLICATIONS are there for your MOBILE


Google has got a lot of Mobile Applications for you....Check out whats in for you on http://www.google.com/mobile/more/

New Regulations on Indian SMS and Telemarketing Industry


Menace of Unsolicited Commercial Communications(UCC) is growing day by day and to curb this, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued a new regulationscalled “The Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2010″ on 1st December 2010. These regulations are prescribed as protection of telecom users from the sending of UCC.
Effective 1st of Feb 2011 :

NO COMMERCIAL COMMUNICATION TO TELECOM USERS REGISTERED WITH NDNC/NCPR

How to register for National Consumer Preference Register (NCPR)
Telephone customers (landline and mobile) can register their telephone numbers with their telecom service provider for inclusion in the National Consumer Preference Register (NCPR) by dialing Toll Free or sending SMS “START 0″ to 1909.
For more details refer http://www.nccptrai.gov.in/nccpregistry
For customers who would like to register/de-register their request for NDNC registry may dial 1909 or SMS to 1909 with keywords ‘START DND’ for registration and ‘STOP DND’ for de-registration
For more details refer http://ndncregistry.gov.in/ndncregistry/index.jsp

Operators may miss unsolicited calls deadline


Mobile subscribers looking for respite from unsolicited calls may have to wait for some more time as operators are facing technical difficulties in implementing system mandated by TRAI to check pesky calls.

With telemarketers mandated to use '700' series number, the originating operator now has to verify that the dialled number is not a part of the 'Do Not Call Registry' (filtering) and only after the verification is completed that the call can go through.

The system currently analyses only the dialled number and not originating number (from where the call is made).

"Operators have highlighted certain technical issues in implementing the 'filtering' requirements mandated by TRAI for originating operators," GSM operators lobby COAI Director General Rajan S Mathew told PTI.

Asked if the operators would be able to meet the January 31 deadline, Mathew did not give a firm reply but said, "All operators are presently working to implement this."
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had set a deadline of January 1, 2011 for operators to implement the guidelines on unsolicited telemarketing calls and SMSs. This was, however, extended to January 31.

"Operators had requested until March 31, principally to implement the filtering requirement. However, TRAI did not grant this request but provided an extension only until January 31 for implementation of this particular feature," he said.
As per the guidelines, telemarketers will be issued a different set of numbers starting with '700', which will help subscribers identify commercial calls and decide whether to accept or reject such calls.

Unlike the previous guidelines, which only provided for a 'Do Not Call' Registry, the new regulations give customers different options to list under the 'fully blocked' category (Do Not Call Registry) or the 'partially blocked' category, under which he/she will only receive SMSes in the categories chosen by him/her.

"In order to do filtering, operators will now have to install new hardware and software to perform filtering and will also have to programme their mobile switches to facilitate integration of the new hardware and software installed to do filtering," Mathew said.
Given the number of operators involved and the number of circles and mobile switches involved, this is a complex and large task, Mathew added."There are only one or two small manufacturers of filtering hardware and software and these manufacturers are finding it difficult to have their equipment handle the larger volume of calls experienced on the networks in India," he said.

Operators had to get their networks ready for MNP during this same time period for national roll out, which has also posed a problem, he said.source

Google Service Solves Sudoku By Looking At It.

 If you're stuck on your sudoku puzzle, there's hope. New photo recognition software for Android mobiles, Goggles, can help solve the puzzle. 

Just hold the numerical puzzle up to the camera on your mobile. Goggles will then recognize the numbers already in the puzzle and calculate the missing values. 

Goggles, now in version 1.3, is also capable of reading ads in US magazines and newspapers and pulling up the appropriate websites. Recognition of bar codes has also gotten better, reported Google in its blog. 

Goggles photographs items and loads them up to Google's servers, where they are analyzed before results are sent to the user's mobile. 

Google says the app can also recognize products and famous sites. It also translates texts between English, German and Spanish. 

The free software is available for all smart-phones that use the Android operating system. The Sudoku assistance is also available in the Google Mobile app for the iPhone.source

Mobile Tariffs Likely to ShootUp

In a field agitate in contract that haw attain ambulatory medium services costly, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal today said henceforth every operators would impact to clear mart toll for initial as substantially added spectrum.
Delinking spectrum from the licences in the consequence of the 2G cheat , Sibal said, “In future, the spectrum module not be bundled with licence. The authorise to be issued to medium operators module be in the nature of ‘Unified Licence’ and the authorise bearer module be liberated to substance some of the varied medium services.
“In the event, the authorise bearer would same to substance wireless services, it module impact to obtain spectrum finished a mart unvoluntary process,” he told a advise conference.
As of today the medium operators were effort spectrum bundled with the medium licenses which had sealed the artefact for baritone tariff program and pure toll struggle among the assist providers.
But now, the newborn operators, if their licences are held valid, would impact to clear a mart toll for the added 1.8 Mhz of 2G spectrum and this haw attain their dealings financially unviable.
For the older operators same Bharti, Vodafone and Idea, who are retentive spectrum beyond 6.2 Mhz, they would impact to clear mart unvoluntary toll for the player airwaves.
These changes would be implemented with unmediated effect, Sibal said.
One of the newborn operators, when contacted, said that the newborn program has presented a field plus to the older operators by allowing them to keep 6.2 Mhz of spectrum patch the newborn operators would be at expiration as they impact to clear mart toll for the added 1.8 Mhz spectrum.
At a instance when the newborn operators are struggling to intend newborn subscribers, added outlay on them would impact them hard.
“We requirement to earnestly study the acceptation of an sell impact for portion and pricing of spectrum beyond 6.2 Mhz patch ensuring that there is competent rivalry in the sell process,” Sibal told reporters here. source

IDEA not happy with GOVT and POLITICIANS

Sorry for the late post but life is turning into a hell with Governance Deficit and Paralysis of Policies headed by one of the Weakest Prime Minister’s in our History.
In the Conference Call hosted on the 25th of Jan, Idea Cellular Management expressed their unhappiness over the Government’s reluctance to indulge Operators and various stake holders in talks. They hoped that the Minister will take inputs but my guess is he didn’t. I am not an advocate of Idea Cellular nor have any interest [direct / in-direct got nothing to do with them], but in the past 2 / 3 years they have repeatedly written to the Telecom Ministry and on some occasions even to the Prime Minister to come with a complete road map for the sector yet the the Puppet like Prime Minister chose to ignore their requests.
Idea Management also expressed the following views, [My Comments in Italics]
  • There must be efficiency at National Level with Multidisciplinary committee
  • Competition does not increase when operators go from 6 to 16
  • As sector evolves, command and control must be market based. Regulator must be able to act freely [Regulator is to write regulations, some Regulators are influenced by their ex-chairman now working for Nira Radia.  Based on the kick-back the Politicians and Bureaucrats receive, rules of the game will be tweaked]
  • Telecom cannot be governed by Media [Nira Radia / Barkha Dutt / NDTV] or Parliament [ ufff Politicians]. Special institutions must takeover and it should be evaluated on how they should be funded [Somebody like Nandan Nilekani should be asked to Head such a institution along with Academic Researchers]
The management which is taking directions from the toughest Chairman of the Aditya Birla group, Kumarmangalam, has been able to cut costs and increase efficiencies at all levels since they need to survive the major shakeout with just plain vanilla Wireless services. Some of the other things discussed in the call by the management are as follows,
  • ARPU is higher than Telecom Sector’s Average.
  • Mobile Number Portability will not be a game changer and Strong Brands will be net gainers
  • 3G launch in 11 cities very soon and nationwide roaming arrangements in place.
  • Idea’s network now carry 1 Bn minutes a day of Voice making it amongst the Top 10 operators globally in traffic
  • Further CAPEX will depend and will be directly proportional to the profits and Cash Flow
  • Idea Cellular has tied up with Axis bank to encash upon the m-commerce opportunity. RBI wants to get most of Indian Population into the banking stream and hence is utilizing the reach and network of Telecom companies. Regulations are evolving with respect to settlement, KYC, UIDAI etc. Idea thinks that m-commerce roll out is still 9 to 12 months away.
  • Data Usage on Idea Network has shot up but no details were given due to competition.
  • To a question on doubling of subscriber acquisition by Merrill Lynch Analyst, Reena Verma, the management didn’t give a satisfactory answer in my view and took shelter under the excuse of seasonality as the Analyst questioned, if their were any strategies the management had adopted, what was stopping them from being implemented earlier :-)
And finally, the Telecom Sector is a mess which I don’t have to explain. I am not really excited to write a lot on this as the stake holders lack the attitude to move ahead in life and grow that you and I have. My priority is something else now, so if time permits, will share my thoughts :-) source

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Spectrum Policy Good For Old Operators

Tata Teleservices on Saturday said that all operators, including new and old ones, should be given 6.2 Mhz spectrum, and over and above that they should be charged as per the market price. "In line with what we have been stating during the consultation process held by Trai in the first half of 2010, we would re-emphasize that all operators be given 6.2 Mhz spectrum in a manner that those waiting for start-up spectrum are first allocated the same," TTSL said in a statement.
TTSL's statement comes in the wake of telecom minister Kapil Sibal's decision to delink spectrum from the licence and reduce the contract limit of spectrum to 4.4 Mhz for new operators. For the old operators the limit has been retained at 6.2 Mhz.
Sibal said that henceforth all spectrum, initial as well as additional, would be given at market driven price.
"...Those who have excess spectrum are charged for the same, preferably retrospectively, to bring all operators to a level-playing-field," TTSL said.
It added that consequent to bringing the level-playing-field, the spectrum beyond 6.2 and up to the limits specified by Trai in May 2010 could be charged by DoT in line with Trai's recommendations.
Besides Tatas, one more operator, who did not wish to be identified, also opposed the move to limit the contracted spectrum to 4.4 Mhz saying the new regime would give huge advantage to old operators, who have millions of subscribers in their kitty.
This (new regime) would make new operators' operations financially unviable.
Most of the other new operators declined to comment on the new policy.
"Having waited for three years since others received their spectrum, it is urged that the government quickly allocates the spectrum to those who have been waiting since long," TTSL asserted.source

How 3G will be of use to common man

You can understand 3g or be confused by it but the fact remains that you just cannot ignore it. The layman's world has grown too fast. Every day technical jargon keeps getting dumped into our routine lives and we are not sure if we really have gotten the hang of it all. Yet, the progress is palpable. It is there all around us and we embrace it and move on, sometimes with almost zero comprehension. we have been hearing the words 2G, 3G and even 4G, now that we all know about iPhones. So what are these Gs? What do they stand for and what exactly do they do? How does it reach the layman and of what use is it? Well, dear reader, that is exactly what this post will try to lend clarity on.
So for the most elementary question, What do the Gs stand for? Well, G means Generation. The world of telecom administrators have named the connections available as First, Second and Third Generations. An obvious illation here would be that each progressing generation is better equipped to connect the world than the previous one. Now when the mobile phones first came into existence 1G networks were used to transmit these signals. The signals used in 1G were analog. Meaning they were prone to many distortions, interference, cross calls im-practical in a few areas and lots of losses. This also meant the handsets had to bigger in size to facilitate proper usage. Then came 2G, where in the major difference/*improvement from 1G was, these signals were digital. The transmitted messages were coded digitally and this eventually improved all the disadvantages of the 1G connection.

Presently we are in the midst of a revolution(Late in India). The 3G standards have come into the nation and along it brings a fresh crisp and faster life. 3G technology enables faster internet access speed, owing to the fact that the channel available for internet access is larger than the one available in 2G. In 3G one can expect speed close to around 200 Kbit/s and more. Refer the Wiki page : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3G. Now the 2G networks suffered due to lack of bandwidth and so it couldn't offer many services. But now that the 3G is here it offers,, by virtue of its bandwidth availability a host of mouth watering features like :
  • Mobile TV – a provider redirects a TV channel directly to the subscriber's phone where it can be watched.
  • Video on demand – a provider sends a movie to the subscriber's phone.
  • Video conferencing – subscribers can see as well as talk to each other.
  • Tele-medicine – a medical provider monitors or provides advice to the potentially isolated subscriber.
  • Location-based services – a provider sends localized weather or traffic conditions to the phone, or the phone allows the subscriber to find nearby businesses or friends.
  • So keeping away all technical terms and speaking strictly as a normal common man, 3G stands for the following :
    1. Faster speed for internet 2. More features like TV and media streaming 3. Video calling facility (needs more bandwidth hence not available in 2G ) 4. More security over 2G 5. Truly, the power of the world will come into the palm of our hands... So long then dear readers, hope this post did, if not completely at least partly, shed some clarity on the happening 3G phenomenon. Cheers source

Free Wi-Fi more attractive than 3G

Expanding the use of free Wi-Fi areas will be more attractive to mobile internet users than 3G connections, according to one expert.

Internet comparison service Broadband.co.uk has claimed that O2's recently-announced decisions to launch a public Wi-Fi channel is an attempt to get people 'off mobile broadband'.

Edd Dawson, managing director of broadband.co.uk, commented: 'Potentially they're trying to get people off mobile broadband and onto a Wi-Fi connection – that could be one of the reasons that they're doing it for free.

'It's going to be good for people the more Wi-Fi spots there are available, especially on phones – it's much more desirable than using 3G.'

However, the expert added that while an increase in free Wi-Fi hotspots is welcome, fixed broadband services will not be largely affected.

Mr Dawson said internet users will still utilise fixed services while at home in order to 'benefit from having the bandwidth to themselves'. source

Catch Live Streaming of World Cup via Vodafone 3G

Original
It's time for a cricket carnival in India, and telecom players are batting with their latest weapon, 3G, hoping that the World Cup will be a money spinner for them.

While a number of players have bid for the rights to stream the ICC World Cup live on 3G, a first in India, NDTV has learnt that Vodafone has pipped ICC World Cup’s on ground sponsor- Reliance Communications and have won the exclusive rights for live streaming of all the 49 World Cup matches this year for a sum of Rs. 55 crore.

"India is a cricket crazy nation.. We do expect an increase in the VAS services, increase in traffic, packages, and subscribers around the World Cup," said Anuradha Aggarwal, VP- brand communications of Vodafone.

So while Vodafone walks away with the exclusive right to stream matches live, telecom players like Airtel and Reliance are planning to sell value added services around the World Cup and are expecting a spurt in the ARPUs as customers migrate to 3G.

Analysts believe that there may be a cricket overkill with multiplexes, internet and now telecom companies streaming cricket content. But with MNP in play now, telcos clearly want to go the whole hog to entice customers.

"At a time when MNP is round the corner offering such services will have  a positive rub off," said Bhavesh Gandhi, an analyst, India Infoline.

With telecom players having invested so heavily in 3G, it remains to be seen how it will spin off with events like World Cup lined up. But for consumers like you and me who want to catch the matches on the go real time, it is surely good news, but may not come cheap and surely at a premium apart from the costs of subscribing to 3G services.source

Tariff Wars - Airtel vs BSNL vs Tata Docomo 3G Tariffs Comparison

We decided to compare the 3G Tariffs from Airtel , BSNL and Tata Docomo in the Bangalore,  Karnataka Circle. This circle was chosen because it is the only circle maximum Operators are offering 3G as of today.
Reliance was not included because it has launched 3G in this circle.This comparison only takes into account the Prepaid tariffs and our main focus is on the Data Usage charges. We have included Video Calling charges too. We have omitted the basic cost such as the SIM procurement charges.
While we have paid lot of attention to the numbers in this comparison , feel free to let us know in case you find any mistake. Click to catch more on this topic

From reactive to proactive management of data services

Operators increasingly want to predict the future, manage the present, and learn from history, but what are the limits of today's traditional "assurance" and "monitoring" solutions and how do future solutions complement what operators already have?
Connected Planet spoke with Vesa Haimi, CEO and Founder of Iptune, which specializes in software solutions designed to manage value-added and mobile broadband services in IP-data networks. The company will have a booth at Mobile World Congress (Hall 1 Booth 1E19).

Connected Planet: What should operators look for in terms of data analysis, assurance and monitoring solutions?
Vesa Haimi: The goal for most organizations is to improve ARPU, which corresponds to how much performance and value is squeezed from each piece of vendor’s equipment in an operator’s network. To squeeze out optimal performance in multi-vendor environments, operators need vendor-agnostic monitoring tools and software that help to resolve the “finger pointing” so common in today’s complex environments.
Rather than be forced to buy into costly optimization services for each vendor’s equipment, operators should have objective views of every node involved in service delivery so they are not reliant on equipment vendors for accurate SLA management, license thresholds and capacity management decisions. Only with neutral, independent analysis can operators comprehend what network equipment met SLAs during the delivery of services.
In addition to objectivity, solutions should be proactive and flexible in nature. Operators feel the pressure to tackle data growth, introduce new bundles and charging plans, tweak policy control rules, and conduct content caching for effective shaping of traffic and service experiences. To accomplish all of that, operators have to move from reactive to proactive mindsets so they can understand the quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) associated with their customers and the consumed services.
This type of proactive mindset requires flexibility in examining changing “use cases.” For example, if there is a noted performance degradation in traffic, operators should be able to see which end-user services have been impacted; which users suffered when accessing key services; which vendor resources were involved in the problem; and approximately how much revenue was lost.
In that vein, solutions should combine not only monitoring and assurance capabilities, but also business intelligence. Only with that combination can all facets of an organization—from management to technical—transform from reactive to proactive management of data services.
Connected Planet: With all the hype around data analysis, what should solutions really reveal?
Vesa Haimi: There are multiple inter-related “quadrants” operators should be able to understand with their solutions. If you think of the Rubik’s Cube®, there are different dimensions that can be manipulated and mixed as a person turns each side of the cube.
A sophisticated data analysis solution today should open visibility in the same manner. One quadrant revolves around three “pillars” of core importance—customer, service and vendor equipment. In each of those pillars, operators should have visibility into the past, present and future “states” as well as visibility into the services themselves (whether streaming video, MMS, Web browsing or others). Throughout the lifecycle of a service, they should be able to see which customers were using certain services, and on what equipment were those service reliant, as well as what was the experiences were at different times of the day.
For instance, one of our clients was surprised when we discovered that 10% of their customers used more than 25% of their capacity. They were also shocked at how much traffic Facebook was generating, and the significant differences in terminal success rates and consumption patterns that we found. Information like this provided the operator the ability to create better-targeted packages, as well as avoid poor response times at terminals under pressure from heavy users.
Also, by linking per-user data volumes to the time of day and specific equipment’s performance, we demonstrated to the customer the actual delivered capacity (as compared to the ‘claimed’ or ‘guaranteed’ performance).
Though history doesn’t repeat itself in an a precise manner, it does reveal patterns valuable to predicting future outcomes; therefore, a solution should take previous cases into account and reviewing them from different angles, operators can take actions that enable them to maximize and grow ARPU through smarter investments, which can be based on real insight.
Connected Planet: What’s the problem you see with traditional assurance and monitoring solutions?
Vesa Haimi: They tend to be bitpipe or equipment monitoring solutions that focus on data packets, technical KPIs and data derived from “log files” and Event Data Records. Much of the information is descended from application code written by IT people that in many instances no longer work for the organization.
As a result, operators sometimes spend days or even weeks having to do manual interventions, such as physical examinations of machines in efforts to collect data pertinent to whatever issues they want to resolve. After all of that, they are still be unable to solve the issues in many cases.
In other words, operators will continue to struggle to get some semblance of useful “knowledge” because these solutions lack correlated end-to-end visibility (including all transactions concerning a session).
It’s crucial that operators understand that an end-user service consists of several so-called supporting services, such as DNS, online charging, and so on, as each impacts the overall performance and QoS.
For instance, we found that with one of our customers, their success rate with browsing sessions dropped below 40% during busy hours, which had gone unnoticed because a license limitation in the browsing gateway limited the amount of concurrent sessions, and thus mitigated the experience and subsequent revenues associated with those sessions.
The operator’s existing solutions were unable to reveal the “hidden problem” since the overall performance appeared to be good and each network element appeared to be acting normally.
The bottom line is that operators seeking to understand customer experience and service quality have to be able to monitor transactions beyond the so-called data network entry point (Gi/Gn interface). Then, performance problems can be measured for each supporting service, as well as ensuing revenue leakages issues.
Connected Planet: Where is Iptune’s focus different?
Vesa Haimi: Where most solutions focus on access and core service, we focus on VAS/data services providing answers to day-to-day questions in the changing telecom IP environment about customers, services and vendors.
We say “your 20% is our 100%” because we focus on the 20% (industry average) that value-added services (VAS) represent of their overall service portfolios. And, though many companies may contend to offer end-to-end, correlated visibility of services, we do so in a manner independent of the vendors and equipment supporting those VAS services. We call this Quality-of-Vendor (QoV) performance evaluation, as we believe solutions today have to objectively provide information for overall vendor performance measurements. That is very different than “traditional” solutions, which see only entry points. Operators need to seek end-to-end service correlation for a unified view of services and “supporting-services.”
Additionally, a solution should add value to what the operators already has—whether business performance, service analysis, service security, or business forecasting. So we make sure our solution draws information from major information sources and then feeds that information to other OSSs. We want our customers to understand the connection between traffic data, revenue, and bottlenecks, as well as potential bottlenecks.source

Study reveals MNP not to impact telecom operators

The MNP services, via which the customer can retain the number even after changing its service provider, was expected to shake up the telephony market, but now industry leaders are recognising that this may not happen, says a study. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched the nation-wide mobile number portability (MNP) services on January 20.
The service was first launched in Haryana in November last year.
“With 0.75 percent of mobile subscribers in Haryana having made use of the porting service in the three months since its introduction, it is still unclear how “well” the service will do across India following its pan-India launch,” the Sri-Lanka based research firm LIRNEasia said in a study.
Idea Cellular launched a major advertising campaign for the “impending” service, has indicated lower expectations on the impact of MNP.
These statements may be a consequence of the reported porting rate from Haryana, the first state in the country where MNP was launched.
In fact, nothing can be concluded from the first few days of the launch, considering the trajectory of porting rates over time in other countries that have introduced the service.
As speculation rises on how the Indian marketplace will receive the service, it will be interesting to note the post paid and prepaid porting rates, says study.
All that a customer needs to do for changing his/her telecom operator is pay a maximum of  19.
He/she will get a new service provider within seven working days as per the guidelines of regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.
However, a consumer will have to remain with one operator for a minimum period of three months in order to avail the MNP service.
Earlier, in another study on the MNP LIRNasia had said that MNP will have limited value to the vast numbers of those on prepaid plans and who have little number loyalty.
Given the phenomenon of multiple SIM ownership that prevails in the country and rock-bottom call rates, there is likely to be little incentive or motivation for a majority of mobile subscribers to consider using MNP.
However, the service will benefit over 700 million subscribers, both in GSM and CDMA categories in the country.
The new policy would force the operators to shift focus from acquiring new subscribers to retaining the existing ones.
With monthly addition of 15 million subscribers, India has achieved a teledensity of 65 percent.
The Indian telecom sector, which is the fastest growing in the world with the lowest tariffs, has grown from 33 million in March 2004 to about 750 million now.
Both pre-paid and post-paid consumers can use MNP.

Flytxt launches QREDA

Is India ready for e-commerce?

Is India ready for e-commerce? It is a well-known fact that most retail activity in the country still happens through small family-owned neighbourhood stores, which have so far been able to face competition from the organised retail sector. Unlike other countries, where the retail sector has been around for a very long time, in India, it is a nascent proposition. In such a scenario, can retail players really find a foothold online, or is e-commerce to be relegated to just a few services, like travel?
Raghavendra Madhav, Executive Director, Astro Group, whose organisation has invested in Aircel, Red FM and Sun DTH, to name a few companies, felt that this wasn’t necessarily the case. He said. “The issues facing us are lack of trust in the seller, that the product that a customer gets will not be what he asked for, fear of credit card payment, and the ‘touch’ issue, of wanting to see and feel a product before spending our money on it. But these problems are steadily being resolved. Other issues include those about back-end and supply chains, and attitude change. At the end of the day, the reason why a lot of companies are not online is because companies are run by people and the people running companies are not comfortable with the technology. As that changes, the adoption rates will increase.”
The emergence of a number of successful categories, like fashion and group buying, have also shown that there is a market for online transactions, and adding value propositions will lead to more users. Madhav cited the example of the mobile space, where until an year ago, VAS was considered secondary to rolling out more coverage, more stores, and picking up more subscribers. He said, “For Aircel, the proposition right from the beginning was that the mobile is for everyone, the Internet is for everyone. Even the guy who just wants to pay for a ten rupee pre-paid card to access it for just one day. Outside of Delhi and Mumbai, in small towns and semi-rural areas, that’s where India is and those are the people one has to reach. Mobile is going to be one of the key drivers there.”
Kedar Gavane, Director, comScore India, sees a growth in digital retail as well, and points to how in the last 12 months retail sites have seen a 39 per cent increase in traffic. He said, “The top categories for online sales were for software, movies, and now increasingly, electronic goods.” Gadgets are quickly becoming very popular items to buy online, perhaps because one is buying the brand, it is standardised, so if you know the model number, you know exactly what you’re getting. As a part of the overall online audience, Gavane said, “In the US, 85 per cent of the audience visits online retail. In India, the number is around 55 per cent, but this has been rising. Around 70 per cent is male and 30 per cent female, but retail has a broad appeal through the age demographics, unlike, say banking or social media, which are skewed towards younger users.”
While retail is on the rise, Gavane does caution that for marketers online, it is important to look beyond the clicks. He said, “The Internet is very measurable, but are we measuring the right things? Every other medium receives ads based on reach and frequency. It’s time that the Internet also started doing this, on an engagement model instead of performance. The fact is that the Internet is often seen as a low cost path, this has already happened with ad rates, and one worry is that retailers are bringing people online through discounts, but if that is the only feature that is stressed, then that could also become a bottleneck to eventual growth.”
Paresh Rajde, Founder, MD and CEO of Suvidhaa, is of the opinion that online service is far closer to maturity that physical retail. He said, “Our business runs a series of franchises, where a person can come with cash to our retail point and perform the online transaction. Our partners are varied, from Fun Cinemas to IRCTC, but in all these cases, it works in the Indian scenario because with the franchisee, we promise customer-friendly service, which allows them to transact in cash, and as soon as they’re done, they get what they paid for. With goods, it becomes more complicated – people would have to wait for delivery and might not be satisfied with the product, but with services, like bill payment for example, it’s a simple, well-understood premise.”
While the issues are at hand, the fact is that as adoption rises, which could get a boost with the coming 3G wave, mobile commerce will in particular be at the forefront of developments in retail, whether offline or online, and the real growth opportunities lie with the big brands, which do not have to overcome issues of trust or standardisation and already have many resources in place to help cover the logistics of such an operation. Whether this will actually happen remains to be seen, but more and more players are now entering into the space, so that instead of solely digital operators, we are seeing a market where digital and offline will complement each other, not compete. source

Enhanced Missed Call Alerts Service in Reliance

Reliance Communications, India’s largest and only telecom service provider to offer nationwide GSM, CDMA and 3G services launched MCA 2.0 with Notify Me, its new missed call notification service with enhanced features.

Reliance Customers will receive missed call alert as at present – which tells a subscriber if they have missed a call due to their phone being either out of coverage area, battery exhaustion, phone is busy or switched off. In addition, 'Notify Me' alerts the callers, whose attempt to ring someone have failed, that the called number is now available to receive a call from them.

Reliance Communication, Head of VAS- Anil Pande said "Missed Call Alert Service 2.0 with Notify Me is a great convenience for Mobile users. It offers both Caller and Called Party instant notification to connect again, without being bothered with repeatedly attempting to connect."

The missed call notification sms will detail the calling party’s mobile number, time & date when the call was made, whereby calling parties will receive a sms saying that the called party is available to receive calls.To subscribe to this service, Reliance customers have to type "M" and send an SMS to 51234 (toll free). Customer will be charged Rs. 15/- for 30 days for unlimited alerts.

The offer is also available through Chat and Play e-recharge in all retails outlets serving Reliance GSM, CDMA and 3G customers including the company’s retail outlets of Reliance Mobile Stores and Reliance World outlets across India.

TRAI - Boon or Bust for SMS Pull services

No doubt unsolicited calls and SMS have been a menace to Indian society for a long time. People from both sides of the table have lobbied extensively with the government to keep their side of the business running. TRAI created the National Do Not Call registry against this Unsolicited Commercial Communication (UCC), but without enforcement or awareness it just seemed like an half hearted attempt. But now with the new guidelines being laid down by the TRAI (now called NCPR) it appears that the government is indeed serious to curb this menace. Or is it?
NCPR appears to have sharper claws compared to NDNC by making the operator party to the UCC. Operator cannot get away this time by passing the blame on to the aggregator. The fines imposed on a complaint registered are quite steep to make both the operator and aggregator sit up and screen the messages being sent over their network. For Bulk SMSes, it defines two categories, Transactional and Promotional. Transactional SMS, according to their FAQ is any message sent by Financial institution, Railways, Airlines or Educational institutions to it’s registered users. Everything else is termed as Promotional.
It appears that the consumers are indeed going to be happy with this new guideline if implemented and enforced to the dot. But they will also not be able to use any of the pull services that they were used to due to this blanket ban on such communication. Google (SMS number 9 77 33 00000), Facebook (92-FACEBOOK) and our own direction services (90088 90088) rely on consumers sending a SMS, and the service replying to the requested sms. TRAI guideline does not talk about these services, and since the operators are going to term any Bulk SMS as a promotional SMS,
  • People registered in NCPR/NDNC will not be able use these services,
  • People will lose interactivity as the message now will not come from the virtual 10 digit number and
  • No one (even people not registered in NCPR/NDNC) will be able to use the service between 9PM and 9AM.
This guideline is definitely something good against the UCC, but it appears that not a lot of thought has been given while drafting it. TRAI seems unapproachable to any of our queries. It requests Tele-Marketer to register with http://www.nccptrai.gov.in after paying Rs 10,000/- and download the list of NCPR registered users for scrubbing, but the site just provides a CSV file with zero rows in it.
Is this yet another half hearted attempt by the TRAI to address Unsolicited communication? Is this going to kill the nascent industries banking on SMS pull services?
Only time will tell.

Way2Sms Will No Longer Allow Your Number As Sender

Until now, you are allowed to send SMS with your Number as Sender ID on Way2Sms. But the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recently issued new regulations on the SMS industry in India. With these new rules, you will no longer send SMSs with your number as sender. These rules will be followed by every SMS service provider from 1st Feb 2011.
Every SMS service provider has to adhere to the new TRAI NCPR (National Consumer Preference Register (NCPR)) guidelines. Way2Sms is the one of the first and reputed free SMS service provider and they also have to follow these rules strictly and have decided that they will no longer allow any user to send SMS with their number as Sender ID.
Way2Sms doesnt allow Number as Sender thumb Way2Sms Will No Longer Allow Your Number As Sender
As part of implementing new TRAI guidelines, way2sms has worked tirelessly to further upgrade their internal processes, technology, and team to ensure 100% compliance of the new regulations. In order to adhere to TRAI guidelines way2sms is also changing its messaging policies from 1st of Feb. 2011 onwards.
New Policies
  • According to the New TRAI guidelines, No SMS provider is allowed to deliver SMSs to NDNC/NCPR listed mobile numbers. So, Starting from Feb 1st 2011 way2sms does not deliver SMSs to NDNC//NCPR Listed mobile numbers.
  • TRAI New guidelines does not allow any service provider to use Numeric mobile number as the sender. So, Starting from Feb 1st, way2sms is changing its Message structure.
So all messages sent via way2sms will be sent as " TD- XXXXX" as the  sender. No Longer you can use your mobile number as sender. Your Mobile number and a 8 letter Nick name will be inserted in your   message by default. However you can continue to enjoy 140characters  message same as before.
All free SMS service provider will have to follow these new rules otherwise TRAI has to take strict steps against service provider. So you can take advantage this month only or try to find another service provider who dares enough to stand against TRAI icon smile Way2Sms Will No Longer Allow Your Number As Sender .
Meanwhile, if you want to send free SMS without any registration, check out this post 3 ways of sending free SMS without registration.source

India’s cellular Boom Unabated, as 3G Rolls out

Large amounts of Indians are acquiring new cellular connections, which rose to 23 million in November, up from 19 million with the prior month.
About twenty % of those 2G subscribers may possibly migrate to 3G companies that take place to be becoming rolled out by crucial operators which includes dominant Bharti Airtel, mentioned Kunal Bajaj, director for indian at telecom consultancy Analysys Mason.
There have been 729.6 million cellular connections on the finish of November, in accordance with information launched through the Telecom Regulatory Authority of indian (TRAI) on Tuesday.
That amount consists of individuals who have additional than a single cellular connection, and also connections that are actually permitted to lapse by some users, in accordance with analysts.
Bharti Airtel and also the third-largest operator, Vodafone Essar, the Indian joint opportunity of Vodafone Group, every additional about 3.1 million subscribers. Reliance Communications, the second-largest operator, additional three million subscribers, even though state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam additional 2.99 million subscribers, in accordance with TRAI.
Most in the subscribers will proceed to 3G to consider benefit of quicker web entry speed, after which after search at other uses like video, Bajaj said. The anticipated availability of 3G-enabled handsets for below US$100 will accelerate this trend, he added.
Mobile operators will also search at 3G like a method to boost typical income every operator (ARPU), Bajaj said. ARPU continues to be dropping in 2G companies simply because of stiff competition, which has pushed lower tariffs.
To counter opposition in urban markets, some operators started out expanding in outlying markets. But in accordance with TRAI data, with the quarter ended Sept. 30, 67 % of subscriber additions have been in urban markets. The fee of development of outlying subscriptions also declined with the quarter, in comparison for the prior quarter, TRAI said.source

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gainers and Losers of MNP RACE

Data gathered during the first four days of MNP in India has revealed that consumers have clear preference for some operators over others.
 
Vodafone Essar, India’s third largest operator, appears to sit the best with consumers, with 61,789 users wanting to switch to it. Aircel comes in second with 28,088 while Idea Cellular comes in third at 15,220, according to data gathered by Financial Express.
 
The country’s largest operator, Bharti Airtel, had just 10,412 users who expressed wishes to switch to it.
 
State-owned BSNL and Reliance Communications, the country’s second-largest operator, appear to be the biggest losers. Net customer loss are estimated at 51,562 and 48,089 respectively.
 
The data also revealed differences in consumers’ preference by region. More than a third of the 30,627 subscribers who wished to port their numbers expressed a preference for Vodafone, while 11,502 out of the 25,000 customers who wanted to port their numbers in Maharashtra preferred Idea Cellular.
 
New operators fared badly, despite MNP being touted as the means for these new entrants to gain subscribers. Sistema Shyam’s MTS emerged the biggest loser, with a net 1,354 customers wishing to port out.
 
A net 956 customers wished to leave Loop Telecom while 288 wanted to exit HFCL. Uninor looked to be the only new entrant who stood to gain, with a net 379 customers wishing to port in.source

Airtel Succeeded in grabbing 1Lac 3G customers within 72 hours of launch











Bullish on 3G:(from left) Mr Atul Bindal, President, Mobile Services, Bharti Airtel; Karthi, actor and brand ambassador; and Mr Vineet Taneja, Operations Director - South, Bharti Airtel, at the launch of 3G services in Chennai on Thursday.


Airtel has succeeded in enlisting over one lakh customers for its range of 3G services within 72 hours of its launch, say company officials.
Mind boggling response
At the launch of the third generation services in Chennai and Coimbatore, Mr Atul Bindal, President, Mobile Services, Bharti Airtel, told Business Line, “The response has been mind boggling with the total consumption of around 200 GB a day.”
“We never anticipated such a huge response,” he said.
Bharti Airtel will rollout the services in 13 circles by March. Over the next one year, it plans to extend the services to 1,500 cities and towns , he told newspersons.
In the 72 hours of the service becoming operational in Bangalore, around one lakh customers are enjoying a variety of services, including video call , movies and music, according to a senior company official.
Mr Bindal welcomed Airtel's brand ambassador and cine star Karthi on to the Airtel 3G platform as the first 3G customer in the city. Airtel will offer services such as video call, live streaming of video, high speed Internet, mobile TV entertainment through the 3G technology. Users can also avail themselves of the services through the existing ‘SIM' cards.
For laptop users, Airtel offers 3G ‘dongles,' he said.
Packages
In a bid to attract mass trial and adoption of the service , the company offers packages of up to 10 days. For Rs 8, under the Sachet plan , a user can avail himself of 10 MB of free data (one day validity); and 65 MB for Rs 63 and one day validity.
Mr Bindal said the company's cumulative spending in Tamil Nadu was Rs 7,000 crore.source

Clever services on cheap mobile phones do ROCK in Poor Countries

COUNTERFEIT drugs can make up around a quarter of all those sold in poor countries, according to some estimates. They provide a lucrative and lethal business, against which most consumers are powerless. “If your anti-malaria pill is made of any old white powder, you may not survive,” says Bright Simons, one of the founders of mPedigree, an advocacy group from Ghana.
Mr Simons is not just fighting with words. Late last year mPedigree launched a mobile service in Ghana and Nigeria that could make a dent in the fake-drug trade. People buying medicine scratch off a panel attached to the packaging. This reveals a code, which they can text to a computer system that looks it up in a database. Seconds later comes a reply saying whether the drug is genuine. The service is paid for by pharmaceutical companies that want to thwart the counterfeiters. Hewlett-Packard runs the computer system and found a cheap way to print the scratch-off labels.
This is just one of many such services mushrooming in poor countries, using mobile-phone technology that once carried only humble voice and text messages. Rohan Samarajiva, the boss of LIRNEasia, a think-tank in Sri Lanka, calls it “more than mobile”. Jussi Hinkkanen, Nokia’s head of policy in Africa, says the mobile revolution is moving “from ear to hand”.
The number of users is still small: even among young people in South-East Asia (a tech-friendly lot) only 8% had used “more-than-voice” services, according to a poll by LIRNEasia. But the potential is exciting. Mobile phones are the world’s most widely distributed computers. Even in poor countries about two-thirds of people have access to one (see chart 1). As a result, such devices and their networks, though mainly still much simpler than in the rich world, have become a platform on which many other services can be built. This boosts innovation—just as smartphones and faster wireless data networks have led to an explosion of mobile applications (“apps”).
Classifying mobile services in poor countries is not an exact science. Richard Heeks, director of the Centre of Development Informatics at the University of Manchester, sorts them by their impact on development. One category is services that “connect the excluded”. In their simplest form they provide information to those who would otherwise be out of the loop. Farmer’s Friend in Uganda, for instance, sends out market prices and other agricultural information in text messages.
Such services have been around for some time, but they have become more common—and much more varied. Nokia now provides its Ovi Life Tools, a set of information services from weather to sport, to more than 6m users of its handsets in China, India, Indonesia and Nigeria. Esoko, a Ghanaian “communication platform”, in the words of Mark Davies, its founder, allows two-way communication: people and businesses in 15 African countries can upload their own market or other data, which then become accessible via the internet and mobile phones.
Mobile trading platforms are also in this category. At first most of them focused on agricultural goods: Dialog Tradenet in Sri Lanka lets farmers check market prices and text in offers, helping them to time their harvest to maximise income. But many, including Dialog Tradenet, have other things on offer. In India, Babajob.com lists low-skilled jobs. The most popular items on CellBazaar in Bangladesh are second-hand mobile phones. For people with some cash to spare, KenyaBUZZ, one of the larger local websites in east Africa, is selling tickets for cultural and sports events over the phone.
Mobile phones can also spread learning. In Bangladesh the BBC World Service Trust sponsors a service called BBC Janala that allows people on a few dollars a day to improve their English. After dialling “3000”, they can listen to hundreds of English lessons and quizzes, updated weekly. Mobile operators charge about two cents for each three-minute lesson. Since BBC Janala was launched in November 2009, 3.1m people have used it.
Researchers in South Africa working for SAP, a software giant, are trying to connect very small businesses, which make up a large part of Africa’s economy. One service lets craftsmen create a virtual job docket with a few texts or touches on a smartphone, even without mobile-network coverage. The information is uploaded to a computer system later. Another allows rural stores to order goods, saving time-consuming trips to city markets.
A second category of services includes those that cut out the middleman, or at least keep tabs on him. This is especially helpful in using government services. In the Indian state of Karnataka, corrupt officials would often demand a bribe before issuing landownership certificates, which farmers need, for instance, to obtain a loan. The Bhoomi project helps them directly, by using the internet and mobile phones.
Disintermediation is also made possible by mobile money. Services to transfer cash by text message have been around for some years. One of the most successful, M-PESA, began in 2007 in Kenya, where it now has more than 13m users. It is now used for salaries, bills, donations: few things cannot be paid for via a handset. Similar services can be found in more than 40 countries. Though not yet on the same scale, this seems to be only a question of time: in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, more people have a mobile phone than a bank account (see chart 2).
Other firms are extending the reach of mobile money. Software developed by Tagattitude, a French start-up, uses a handset’s sound channel to transmit money and will be used by several banks in Africa. A Little World, an Indian firm, has combined several pieces of technology to create a “branchless microbanking system” to allow people in remote areas to withdraw cash. A fingerprint reader identifies them and the sum is deducted from their accounts via a special handset. A small printer produces a receipt. The system already has more than 3m users in India. In Andhra Pradesh it directly disburses welfare payments and pensions.
Money on the move in Kenya
The sound of the crowd, texting
A third, perhaps even more promising category is “crowdvoicing”. Ushahidi, founded by a group of activists in Kenya, is among its pioneers. After the country’s disputed elections in 2008, Ushahidi (which means “testimony” in Swahili) mapped reports about violence, most of them text messages, on a website. Now the organisation offers software and even a web-based service to monitor anything from elections to natural disasters. Similarly, text-messaging software called FrontlineSMS collects and broadcasts information.
Such techniques are increasingly applied in other areas, particularly health. Stop Stock-outs, another African group, has used Ushahidi to map where essential medicines are sold out. By checking whether a drug is genuine, users of mPedigree and another Ghanaian service called Sproxil provide real-time data about which illnesses are on the rise (and can be sent more information as needed). In Mali a company called Pesinet gets agents to send in the weight of newborn babies. If the figure falls below a certain level, the baby is examined more closely.
Then there is txteagle, which hopes to reward those willing to perform small jobs on a mobile phone. Its founder, Nathan Eagle, discovered that nurses in Kenya were much likelier to text in the stock levels at their blood banks if they were compensated with a bit of airtime. This got him thinking about whether other tasks could be “crowdsourced” in this way. Today firms use txteagle for translating words into a local dialect and checking street signs for a satellite-navigation service. Mr Eagle hopes that the service will spread far, in particular to Asia.
A fourth and last category hardly exists yet, but could prove the most important, says Mr Heeks: platforms that allow the world’s poor to “appropriate the technology and start applying it in new ways”. One small example is “beeping”: hanging up after a single ring. First used to signal that someone wants to be called back because of lack of credit, it has become a free messaging system. In some countries, street hawkers assign special ringtones to different customers, which are in effect free messages placing orders.
In rich countries, online stores for smartphone apps gave digital innovation a boost. LIRNEasia’s Mr Samarajiva hopes that something similar will happen in the poor world. An early example is AppZone in Sri Lanka. It allows developers to create, test and sell applications, while operators promote them to their customers.
The list will certainly get longer. Whether such services will be commercial successes is another question. Having looked at 400 mobile businesses, the Monitor Group, a consultancy, concludes that too many are dependent on donor money. Social entrepreneurship often muddles demand and need, says Jan Schwier of Monitor. The fact that an African smallholder needs prices for his crops on his mobile does not mean he will pay for them.
Not many services are set up to grow, says Brooke Partridge of Vital Wave Consulting, which advises businesses in emerging markets. Providers lack technology, money and market knowledge. “We don’t need more new services, but a better focus on commercialisation,” she says.
For others bureaucracy, taxation and bad regulation are the obstacles. In many African countries providers of new mobile services cannot deal with network operators directly, but must use intermediaries to get, for instance, a short code for customers to dial. Governments also use mobile networks as cash cows. A study in 2008 by the GSM Association, an industry group, found that the ratio of mobile-related tax to operators’ revenues in sub-Saharan Africa was 30%. Today the share is probably even higher. And regulators often limit competition, for instance by failing to license radio spectrum to new entrants. All this means that mobile communications are more expensive than they need be. “Price remains the major barrier to the growth of mobile entrepreneurship in Africa,” says Steve Song, a telecoms expert at the Shuttleworth Foundation, a think-tank in South Africa.
Talk of a “Development 2.0”—meaning a mobile-driven transformation of how poor countries develop—thus seems premature. But the potential of mobile services should not be underestimated. If they take off, they could transform lives and livelihoods, not just by connecting the world’s poor to the infrastructure of the digital economy, but by allowing them to become digital producers and innovators.
Fanciful? Maybe, but sceptics said the same about the potential of mobile phones in poor countries a decade ago. Just think what would be possible if smartphones and even tablet computers become as cheap and common in poor countries as mobile phones are today.source

TRAI after the SPAM SMSs now


Starting Feb 1st (2011), telecom operators will have to comply to new TRAI guidelines on SMS spam and while the deed is noble, it will create more confusion for consumers.
First, the fineprint.
- From Feb 1, there will only be 2 categories of messages- Transactional (Bank alerts, Railway & Airline alerts, Messages to parents from school etc) and Non transactional or Promotional (all remaining categories except mentioned earlier – like courier alerts, spam, marketing offers, news alerts, subscribed SMS services, intra company or group messages and so on)
- Only transactional messages will have full branded sender id (like TA-HDFCBANK) for others, there will be a 6 digit code (like TA-n12345 or TA-nABCDE), where n is the category of the message and further 5 digits are the unique code given by the telecom operator to each aggregator.
- All non-transactional messages will be compulsorily passed through the NDNC filter.(This means, you will NOT receive the subscribed/ paid news alert or even your courier status message if you are registered with DND) and will be allowed only during 9am to 9pm.
As a consumer, you will now have to open each and every non-transactional message to check on the content. So far, you could easily delete a message just by checking the names, but now ensure that you open each and every sms to see if there is something important.
Moreover, does this mean that you need to unsubscribe from DND to get other relevant & important messages (that TRAI considers non-transactional)?.
What’s your take? What will be the impact of this on bulk sms services? Operators have started testing this regulation – so chances of the implementation being delayed is minimal.source