Friday, July 15, 2011

Comviva's Solution to Increase ARPRU By 41 Percent in Africa

Leader in providing mobile solutions beyond Value Added Services (VAS), Comviva, at the weekend said its Mobile Data Solutions could assist operators in Africa increase data volume by 41 per cent and increase Average Revenue per User (ARPU) by 20 per cent.

Mr. Sundeep Mehta of Corporate Communications unit at Comviva Technologies Limited, who disclosed this in a press statement said that Comviva's Mobile Data Platform deploys advanced optimization, data management and monetization techniques to enhance the user experience and stimulate revenue growth, whilst generating upto 45 per cent savings on bandwidth and upto 50 per cent on infrastructure investment.
He said, Comviva, with over 10 years experience in managing mobile data pipes for more than 80 operators globally across and over 40 countries, is ideally positioned to be the solution provider to evolve an operator's mobile data strategy.
The award winning, Comviva Mobile Data Platform (MDP), he said, is a comprehensive data suite offering acceleration, optimization, smart caching, video caching, P2P caching, policy and bandwidth management, DPI based profiling and inline billing.
However, the Vice President, Africa Region, Comviva, Mayank Sharma, was quoted as saying that Africa has witnessed the highest growth in mobile broadband globally and operators in the region need solutions that could complement their infrastructure with this growth.
"Comviva's comprehensive approach to mobile data management enables efficient and effective handling of the various types of data traffic," Sharma said.
Adding that Comviva's mobile data solutions enable all mobile users to exploit the true power of the Internet by addressing all profiles of traffic found on the internet, such as http, progressive http, and other data services such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Virtual Private Network (VPN).
"Our solution helps to enhance mobile internet experience by improving data download speeds," Sharma declared.
Further, the VP said that Comviva's Mobile Data Platform enables operators to focus on optimizing bandwidth and Capital Expense (CAPEX) investment; enhancing the user's service experience with personalization, policy and advanced analytics' engines, while adding to the monetization opportunities with improved ability to price on a differential basis.source

'Chote Miyan Bade Miyan' Series on STEL

S Tel, Apnakara Nijara Phone, aligned to its philosophy of simple, uncomplicated and hassle free offering, today announced a series of attractive tariff plan under a common umbrella of CHOTE MIYAN BADE MIYAN for its subscribers in Odisha. S Tel subscribers can now choose a plan of their choice to match their budget and specific needs from a plethora of larger (Bade Miyan) as well as smaller denomination (Chote Miyan) plans comprising of rate cutters, bulk minutes for every segment ( Local, STD, ISD ) along with SMS and GPRS packs. 

Commenting on the occasion, Mr. Shamik Das, CEO, S Tel said, "During recent surveys conducted by S Tel, it was found that most customers were not aware of the Special Tariff Benefits beings offered by various operators. More so, these offers were so confusing that they were not able to compare them as well. True to S Tel philosophy of offering simple and uncomplicated yet attractive products, company has created a simple bouquet of products under 2 ranges - CHOTE MIYAN and BADE MIYAN. It is a series of chosen product packaged to match customers largest to the smallest communication needs."

He further added ," S Tel will continue to position itself as 'simple' &'transparent' brand that speaks the language of the local people, 'belongs' to them, and seeks to 'uncomplicate' & 'demystify' the lives of mobile user. The brand's purpose is to inspire inclusiveness, which resonates in everything it does - be it our tariffs, VAS, customer care or distribution. S Tel's baseline 'Apnakara Nijara Phone' is a true reflection of this spirit."

From two ranges - CHOTE MIYAN and BADE MIYAN, all products under first range 'CHOTE MIYAN' come with 30 days validity and have in-built talktime of Rs.10. The customer can enjoy choice of products like - SMS Dhamal that gives first 100 SMS (Local + National) free every day or 1p/2s Calling Karnama , offer that allows first 10,000 sec of Local & STD calls@1p/sec , making STD call as cheap as Local call. Similar attractive offer in this range include - GPRS Ka Maza, Flat Rate Kamal, Local S Tel masti & ISD dhamaka.

Similarly, BADE MIYAN, as the name suggests gives a larger benefit to its customers - a whopping validity of 90 days and in-built talk time of Rs.30. The second range packed with portfolio of products ranging from ISD dhamaka which gives to consumers lucrative first 5000 sec to Nepal& Gulf @10p/sec or Flat Rate Kamal with attractive tariffs as low as 30p/min for local calls & 40p/min for STD calls. SMS Dhamal, GPRS ka Maza, 1p/2p calling karnama or Local S Tel Masti complete the bouquet of choices in this range.

The details of CHOTE MIYAN BADE MIYAN series can be seen from table of benefits below:

Excited on launch of new series, Mr. Aravind Santhanam, COO, S Tel said, "S Tel prides itself in being an operator of choice for its subscriber making it truly "Apnakara Nijara Phone". With introduction of the 'CHOTE MIYAN BADE MIYAN' series, we have given our subscribers in Odisha the recharge options that cater exclusively to their usage requirements and budget. The series has been launched keeping in mind the different needs of the consumers ,be it rate cutters or bulk minutes ranging from SMS, Local, STD or ISD calls ,along with SMS and GPRS pack. S Tel has in the past & going forward will continue to bring unique and simple concepts to the consumer that will be packaged to meet their unaddressed telecom needs."

He further added, "With footprints across 112 census towns and 6070 villages in Odisha through 17,000 strong retail network and 63 distributors, S Tel customers can now ask for their favorite Bade Miyan or Chote Miyan plan from their convenient retail point."

In the recent past, S Tel had launched Ghar Baithe Mann Chahe plan chune, a unique 'Self recharge' concept for its subscribers. It also introduced a fascinating product to get connected to STEL - FRC 108. This pack enabled any new subscriber to come on board and enjoy free local talktime and free internet upto 90 days continuously for a mere Rs. 108.

Targeting the youth segment, S Tel introduced Mobile Internet services that provide Unlimited Download option across Daily, 10 Day and Monthly Plans. With each recharge consumer stands to get Free! Talk time. S Tel Adda WAP portal offers FREE browsing on subscribers WAP enabled phones where one can download ringtones, wallpapers, themes, videos, animations and games. S Tel has also introduced two Voice based service called Love Zone which provides love tips, shayari, and Mirch Masala zone that provides bollywood gossips, movie and music reviews and celebrity talk. This service is available on weekly subscription with unlimited usage.

S Tel also offers a basket of competitively priced VAS services on SMS and voice platform. S Tel's premium SMS alerts come at just Re.1/SMS. Consumer can subscribe to different SMS Subscription Alerts, Cricket, Jokes and Health at just Rs. 15 per month. At Re 1 they can also access voice portal services focused on mobile education, exam results, government jobs etc.
Subscribers can also make new friends with Hum Tum, a voice based chat service.

S Tel customer care in Odisha can be reached at +919132012345 from any landline or mobile number. Besides this, S Tel users can access the toll free customer care number 1212. 

Present and Future of 3G in India

The world is fast changing with increasing trends in the communication sector. Drastic shifts have happened in the way people used to communicate. The adoption of technology, not only in the metros but also in the rural areas is observed in today’s time. This is primarily due to the growing consumer awareness and adaptability towards newer technologies.
In today’s scenario, the increasing use and understanding of technology is augmenting the growth of the communications market in India. The communication market in India is fairly influencing the growth, especially of the mobile handset and service providers. Following are some interesting statistics supporting the same:
As of May, 2011, the mobile subscription base stands at more than 811 million in India which is the world’s second highest after China. The most interesting part about these millions of subscribers is that they are fast changing their preferences to a better mode of communication. No doubt about the fact that the 2G market in India is one of the fastest-growing mobile services markets in the world but the change to 3G is happening. An example of how big 3G is with respect to Indian markets is, GOI expecting INR 35,000 earned INR 67,719 crores against in the 3G spectrum auctions.
Here is an analysis of the present and future of 3G market in India:
Consumer Switch:
Elite subscribers in the high-spending tech-savvy segment are likely to shift from 2G to 3G services. A variety of consumers are shifting from 2G to 3G networks primarily in the urban areas where consumers have shown a higher preference for data services and have better affordability. Currently there are around 11 million 3G users in India but the number is expected to reach 400 million by 2015.
The pricing strategy adopted by various players is very competitive and cheap to start with. The current rates being offered at discounted prices for consumers to experience the service and then take a decision is being adopted. 3G is being looked at a long term investment with high returns.
Handsets Sales:
The decreasing price of 3G enabled handsets is also aiding the whole business. The increasing affordability across different demographics in India is also one of the driving factors. Thus we expect the 3G market to grow invariably.
Tariff Plans:
The tariff levels in India are among the lowest in the world, and this is the primary reason for the wide adoption of mobile services in the country. The mobile penetration rate is expected to reach 97 percent by 2015, with the rural population expected to adopt mobile services.
Communication & Entertainment:
The increasing use of applications on 3G phones is set to drive the sales and awareness as well. This in turn will also act as a revenue generation business for TSPs in the future. The growing popularity of mobile entertainment is a significant growth factor as access to mobile games and video-based content would need high speed. This would result in increased adoption of 3G services.
Security Concerns:
The GOI has always raised a concern on the telecom handsets that is being imported in India. This has largely affected the TSPs’ network expansion and 3G rollout plans. However, the recent lift of the ban on importing equipment from Chinese vendors is likely to improve this situation.
On the whole, the future of 3G looks bright in India but again it clearly depends on factors such as availability of 3G handsets at affordable prices, attractive pricing schemes to suit the needs of Indian consumers and innovation & localization of mobile content. The telecom service providers will always need to deploy innovation and build a comprehensive value proposition to target consumers in India.source

Thursday, July 14, 2011

3G Roaming Deal By Top Indian Operators

Three of India’s largest mobile operators – Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular – have reportedly struck an intra-circle roaming agreement that will allow them each to offer a countrywide 3G service. In a statement to the Hindu Business Line, Vodafone said it “has entered into a bilateral roaming agreement with Idea and Airtel in circles where we have not built our own 3G network. With this agreement, Vodafone / Airtel / Idea will bring a pan-India experience of 3G services to their customers.” The other two operators have yet to confirm the deal. Last year’s 3G spectrum auctions saw all the country’s operators fall short of acquiring nationwide coverage. Bharti, Aircel and Reliance Communications each own 3G spectrum licences in 13 of the 22 telecom circles, while Vodafone, Idea and Tata each have licences in nine circles.
According to the Hindu Business Line, the latest deal will see Idea use Vodafone’s 3G services in Delhi and Kolkata circles, while Vodafone will use Idea’s network in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala – plus Bharti’s network in Uttar Pradesh (West). Bharti and Idea will tie-up in Karnataka and Gujarat. The report notes that the operators have been “tight lipped” about the specific commercial agreements in the roaming pact, notably with regards to pricing. “This sort of arrangement is relatively new in the Indian market. Perhaps operators want to be sure on the outcome before highlighting them,” said Gartner analyst Shaily Shah. She noted also that “more such tie-ups amongst operators are in the pipeline.” source

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How 4G changes our minds and businesses ?

 Ubiquitous, intimate computing: That is what a 4G network means to local software developer Carl Erickson, the president of Atomic Object.
Erickson was one of five mobile technology experts on a panel to discuss the implications of a 4G network at the first Mobile Monday Grand Rapids meeting at the JW Marriot.
About 100 people, with cell phones appropriately in hand, attended the event and tweeted questions and thoughts as the speakers discussed a "paradigm-shift in technology."
The event provides a space for mobile-technology lovers to hash out ideas and network in Grand Rapids.
"Hopefully more people are inspired to do something useful," said Doug Lang, of Red Pigeon. "We want MoMoGR to be about the progress of useful and meaningful mobile technology."
Lang organized the free event and admits the new Grand Rapids chapter, following Ann Arbor and Detroit, is looking for "geeks and gurus" but welcomes anyone who has a flair for technology.
As for the people who should be tapping into these meetings? Lang and Erickson said small business owners are missing out if they aren't realizing the potential of mobile devices.
"As a business person, mobile is lifeblood for us," Erickson said. "The most exciting market for us is entrepreneurs because businesses are now thinking: Is my application better on the web or mobile?"
"In 2009 the amount of revenue coming from mobile at Atomic Object was immeasurable but in 2010 it was 25 percent."
Other panelists included Jason Joseph of Spectrum Health, Joe Johnston of Universal Mind, Jonathan Engelsma of Grand Valley State University and Michael Weiden of Verizon Wireless, the sponsor of the event.
From the panelists rose some interesting questions about the nature of technology and the velocity at which it is changing: How long will broadband be relevant when "hotspots" are more useful? Should businesses be focusing on websites or mobile sites? Are next generation developers thinking ethically about privacy? How fast do our standards of connectivity change?
"The question of going to web or mobile is a very real question right now," Joseph, of Spectrum Health, said. "4G means health care delivery possibilities and access to physicians and patients."
Joseph described the barriers that hospitals face in the wake of new technology and the costs of deciding how to connect.
"Infrastructure in hospitals usually includes thick walls, old buildings and sometimes lead protection shields for MRI machines, which means in the basement I don't have service. Physicians who need life-saving emergency messages need data."
Johnston, of Universal Mind, supplied presentation graphs displaying how mobile technology is predicted to surpass the desktop in the future.
"Eighty percent of the Fortune 100 companies are deploying or testing the iPad," he said.
Mobile Monday events will take place once a month and the next event is slated for August 8. The focus will be how to pitch a mobile application service as a business venture.
For those who want to follow the virtual conversation, attendants are encouraged to tweet what they think at the meetings with #MoMoGR on Twitter.
"I came because I want to hear what people are saying about the mobile space," said David Valko.


Drippler Reaches More Than 150,000 Downloads On Android

Drippler, a free update service for gadget owners, recently hit 150,000 downloads on the Android Market. Drippler created an application that allows Android users to stay updated with their mobile phones for more than 30 different models. Drippler has a model specific "Updater" app that Android users can install on their droid and receive updates on apps, games, firmware updates, reviews, accessories and more.
Matan Talmi the CEO of Drippler stated, "With Android's massive growth, users are constantly searching for the latest apps to download, usage tips, accessories and ROM updates. We're here to save them the hassle of searching and make sure they are always up-to-date. We will soon support many more Android models, and eventually provide a Drippler Updater app for any model on the market."
Recently, the Updater was featured by Sprint on their list of recommended apps for Android Market. Some of the top Drippler apps downloaded on the Android Market are for the Samsung Galaxy S, HTC Evo 4G and Motorola Droid X. The app features the latest updates, news and rumors about the device. Users can browse by either the 'Latest' updates, or the most 'Popular' ones. The app also features a desktop widget, and Facebook and Twitter sharing. Following a major update to the app, a regular user of the app stated,"I've loved this app for months and the update is incredible. It's great."
Drippler does not just cater to Android users; users of smartphones, tablets, video game consoles, and other gadgets can also use Drippler to their advantage. Drippler provides consumers with personalized updates on their gadgets, keeping them up-to-date with the latest gadget updates, news & rumors. Creating an account is easy and free at drippler.com. Once selecting the relevant gadgets, Drippler takes care of the rest.
For more information on Drippler visit http://drippler.com 


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Prepare for IIT with Tata Docomo Tutor on Mobile

It also content to Class X, XII, IIT and Engineering students. Podcast of conference are also available on various subjects.

Tata Docomo has launched a service called Tutor on Mobile (TOM), which is a knowledge marketplace packed with premium educational content, and easy learning mechanisms.
The service gives content on educational and career related topics, and provides tutor content to Class X, XII, IIT and Engineering students, enabling students to learn on the move. Students can also take mock tests through this service.
The service has been launched in association with Voicetap Technologies (a 2 year old technology start-up founded by INSEAD and IIT alumni), and enables subject experts to broadcast their knowledge to the world by hosting Knowledge Conference Calls and make money doing so.
Tutor on Mobile (TOM) uses Voicetap's proprietary oneTAP platform to aggregate and deliver content across various mediums including IVR(interactive voice response), IVVR (interactive voice and video response), Web, WAP and SMS, so depending on users handset capability the service will be delivered according to the choice of the user.
The content provided is in the form of videos, text, images, live interactions, pod casts (voice broadcast) or even knowledge conferences, where one can join an experts session (virtual class room, both voice and video).
Talking about Voicetap's first major launch in India, Mrigank Tripathi, founder and chief executive officer, said, "With college admissions season on the brink, Voicetap team has already hosted series of Knowledge Conference Calls on Delhi University Admissions, Engineering College Admissions and Career Counseling Sessions and has a whole series planned on admissions, career and other such topics".
Gurinder Singh Sandhu, head corporate marketing, Tata Teleservices Limited, said, "The service liberates from a classroom session to a complete mobile way of learning a language and we hope our subscribers will reap the benefits of the application in the days to come."
Voicetap currently has over 60 expert partners, who have signed up for TOM to reach out to new customers. TOM will let users search for various topics on which they want to acquire knowledge.
The knowledge will be provided to users through SMS, WAP, Web, IVR and IVVR. Customers can subscribe the service by three different ways, first by sending a free SMS to 'TOM' to 5333300, secondly through SMS link for free and thirdly, through website tom.tatadocomo.com (to be used for only previews and uploading user videos).
Currently the service gives menu options through the WAP site mentioned above. And soon the service will also be available through application which will give better menu options.
The service is free for the first month as promotional plan. From the second month onwards, users have to pay Rs 15 per month for all the content including podcasts. There will be no data charges as the browsing is free. However, if one needs expert advice then that will be charged separately based on the expert he/she chooses.source

Now, book your train ticket on cellphone

Your phone can double up as a train ticket now with the Indian Railways launching ‘m-ticket’ service, which does away with the need for paper tickets and printouts. If you have internet (GPRS) activated on your mobile, all you need to do is visit a new website called indianrailway.gov.in launched on Friday, and register for the service. An SMS will bring the link of a tiny mobile application to your phone. Using GPRS (mobile internet), install the “App”, and you will never need to bother about carrying tickets for train travel anymore.
All you need to do is show the ticket examiner the ‘mobile reservation voucher’— an SMS containing your reservation information and back it up with a valid photo ID.
“With mobile phones becoming gadgets for business productivity and entertainment besides telephony, railways had to make its services available in this space,” said a railway ministry spokesman.
The website is still weeding out minor kinks involving page loading and user registration, but the railways are surging ahead with the plan for mobile devices. Travel agents and such bulk customers have been barred from using the service, as each ID can book up to eight tickets per month.
While currently the mobile application is compatible with most GSM and CDMA phones, sources said officials are deliberating specific applications for Blackberry and iPhone. Mobile ticketing is just one aspect of the website. Passengers can also book retiring rooms in advance.source

Mobile rechargers to resume work from tomorrow

Coimbatore, Jul 9 (PTI): The one-week-old strike by Mobile Recharge and Retailers Association here will end tomorrow,even as 200 association members observed a one-day fast here today, in protest against reduction of commission by major mobile service providers. In a resolution,the association said it has decided to sell recharge coupons and Easy recharge from tomorrow or just after the fast in the evening, considering the problems being faced by the public. Nearly 5,000 retailers are on strike since one week in reduction of commission charges from 3.8 to 3.3 per cent by major service operators, without any proper communication. In another resolution,it said members would stop activating SIM cards of operators like Airtel, Aircel and Vodafone until further orders. It also decided to remove signboards of these operators from their shops. source

China Mobile puts more pressure on Unicom

China Mobile Ltd said 5.6 million iPhone users had access to its wireless network by theend of Mayputting increasing pressure on China Unicom (Hong KongLtdApple Inc's officialpartner in the country.
Wang Jianzhouchairman of China Mobile Communications Corpthe parent company of the carrier,revealed the figure in an interview with Chinese newspaper China Business News in early July.
In May alonealmost 700,000 iPhone 4 users were added to China Mobile's networkto the delightof Tim Cookchief operating officer of Apple IncWang told the newspaper.
Cook paid a low-profile visit to China Mobile's headquarters in Beijing last monthand industryanalysts speculated that he might have discussed launching an iPhone to support China Mobile'sfourth generation time division long-term evolution (TD-LTEtechnology.
China Mobilewhose third-generation (3G) network technology isn't supported by the iPhonehasaggressively promoted collaboration with Apple in the upcoming 4G eraCurrentlyChina Mobile'siPhone users can only run their device on the 2G mobile network.
"The advanced 4G TD-LTE technology could be beneficial (for China Mobileto attract and maintainhigh-end mobile phone users," Wang said.
China UnicomChina's second-biggest telecom operatoris still the only carrier in China that offersApple Inc's iPhone series with a service contractHoweverthe company faced increasingchallenges from its domestic rivals.
China Telecom Corp Ltdthe smallest of the country's three telecom carriersalso plans tointroduce a Code-Division Multiple Access version of the iPhone in the Chinese market.
"It is a trendfor rival carriers to offer services based on the iPhonechief executive officer of ChinaTelecom Chang Xiaobing told Bloomberg News at the end of May. "We don't have a choice in this,and must be ready to face this environment."
China Unicom also changed its terminal strategy from solely relying on the iPhone to promotingmultiple smartphone models made by different manufacturers.
The company issued a definition of "a 3G Internet mobile phonein Maysaying those devicesshould feature a 3.5 inch screena central processing CPU of 600 MHz or moreand should havepowerful multimedia capabilities.
The ZTE Blade V880 was the first 3G Internet mobile phone model introduced by China Unicom inJuneThe price of Blade V880 is 999 yuan ($155) and the model has daily sales of 4,500 units,becoming China Unicom's second most popular 3G mobile phoneafter the iPhone 4.
China Mobile had 611 million subscribers at the end of Mayof which 32 million were 3G usersThecompany aims to attract more than 50 million 3G users by the end of the yearChina Unicom had22.1 million 3G users in Maywhile China Telecom came in third with 19.7 million.source

Safaricom’s mobile money services rakes in N1.34trn

...As MTN prepares to launch mobile money
Nigeria’s telecom operator, MTN prepares to launch mobile money services in August 2011 in a bid to re-enact the success story of Safaricom, a telecom company based in Kenya. Safaricom runs the biggest money service in Kenya called “M-Pesa,” following its transaction of a Sh727.8 billion (N1.34 trillion) last year.
BusinessDay learnt that when MTN mobile money service is launched, it is expected to cover 40 million subscribers, mostly the high number of unbanked Nigerians that it will bring into the scheme, which will make it the biggest in Africa. The launch will coincide with the take-off date for the national mobile money scheme being superintended by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Less than 20 percent (28 million) of Nigeria’s 140 million people currently operate bank accounts. The country’s 24 commercial banks reportedly have a network of less than 4,000 branches. Meanwhile, there are over 90 million active phone lines in the country, with over 95 percent of them being mobile lines.
The M-PESA service which the MTN mobile money will be fashioned after enables users to send and receive money through their mobile phones. The Central Bank of Kenya report shows that the M-Pesa service in Kenya  saw over 305 million transactions carried out in the year, according to 2010 annual bank supervision report.
The report notes that  “M-Pesa was still the most widely used method of mobile money transfer as evidenced by the 305.7 million transactions effected and valued at Sh727.8 billion in the year.
This means that on average, the service moved Sh2 billion daily. “This is huge but it’s possible…people are using a lot of mobile money now,” said Telkom Kenya’s communication manager Angela Mumo. The figure is likely to rise even further this year, according to Safaricom’s chief executive officer, Bob Collymore. “The numbers are certainly increasing,” said Collymore on phone yesterday. “Everybody is using M-Pesa.”
Person-to-Person transactions for March 2011 stood at Sh47 billion,(N80.8 billion) according to figures released during the investor briefing in March.
Since being launched in March 2007, M-Pesa’s popularity has been growing from strength to strength. For instance, the number of users grew from 6.1 million in 2009 to 9.4 million in 2010 and 13.8 million users as at March 2011. On revenue side, Safaricom made some Sh11.78 billion(N20.78 billion) from M-Pesa last year up from Sh7.56 billion( the previous year, a 56 per cent growth.
According to Safaricom’s annual report for the year ended 31 March 2011, Cumulative value of transactions from inception is Sh828 billion. M-Pesa competes with services such as Airtel Money, Orange Money and Yu-cash. “In only four years of existence of mobile phone money transfer services, four mobile operators have enrolled over 15 million customers,” the CBK report says.
According to Mumo, Orange Money transacted over Sh50 million on the first month of launch late last year but the figure could now be over half a billion. “Orange Money allows bigger transactions and that is why we want to partner with Saccos,” Mumo said.
The popularity of M-Pesa has seen the service attract international recognition. The service won the Mobile Money for the Unbanked Award at this year’s Global Mobile Awards 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. The service is also being tried in other countries. In Tanzania, where the product was launched by Vodacom, M-Pesa has 1,6m active and 7 million registered users.
The service has however failed to pick in South Africa where it was launched in August last year in partnership with Vodacom. Last month, Vodacom disclosed that it has only managed to register about 100, 000 M-Pesa users in SA so far. Vodacom said M-Pesa has fallen short of its expectations for the product. When it unveiled the product, Vodacom said it expected to sign up 10 million customers within three years. source

Airtel 3G International video calling service for India

A month after the Indian government set a deadline to put a monitoring mechanism in place for intercepting video calling on a real-time basis, Airtel has come up with its latest offering for the same. The announcement of the Airtel 3G International video calling service follows the launch of its 3G services in the north eastern belt earlier this month.
This new service claims to connect India with more than 227 countries and allows users to share important moments of their lives in real time with people abroad through 3G. Customers of the company’s 3G services can now take advantage of the Airtel internet on 3G to make international video calls and share information instantly.
Atul Bindal, President of Mobile Services, Bharti Airtel elaborated by saying, “At Airtel, it is our constant endeavor to introduce services that enrich the lives of our customers. As we take the lead in launching International Video Calling on 3G in India, this marks the beginning of a new era of next generation communication in the country – one that will help mobile customers break the barrier of boundaries and instantly connect with their personal and business network across the world. Given the high demand of video calling services seen since the launch of Airtel 3G services, we are confident that our customers will see great value from the availability of this capability for international calls as well. We invite our 3 million plus Airtel 3G customers to enjoy this exciting experience.”
To make ISD video calls, the receiver as well as the sender is required to use 3G network and possess a front facing camera in their 3G handsets. By virtue of this service, callers can interact face-to-face with their friends and relatives residing in any country where this service is applicable.
The Airtel 3G International video calling service is priced at Rs. 20 per minute for countries like UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Oman. While for Canada, Bangladesh and USA, the price is Rs. 14 per minute.source

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Top 10 gadgets

Apple iPhone 4
Said to be the world’s thinnest smartphone, it was launched in India this May. It has a 3.5-inch retina display and 5-megapixel camera.
Price: Rs 35,000

Motorola Xoom 
tablet PC, though smaller in size, has 
PC-like functionalities. Set to hit the market anytime soon, Xoom, powered by Android platform, has a 10.1-inch HD display, 1GHz dual-core processor, a five megapixel rear-facing camera and a two megapixel front-facing camera.
Price: Rs 40,000
Samsung Galaxy S2Launched this June in India, it is one of the most sought-after Android phones. It has 32GB built-in memory, a 8 megapixel camera, HD video playback and recording.
Price: Rs 30,000
New Mac Book AirThis has been touted as the laptop of the future. Apple’s two new MacBook Air-11.6-inch and 13.3-inch have replaced mechanical hard disks and optical drives with internet services and solid state flash storage. It supports up to seven hours of battery life and up to 30 days of standby time.
Price: Starts at Rs 59,900 
Sony Playstation VitaThis portable entertainment system  offers motion and touch-based next generation gaming. It has a 5-inch multi-touch display at the front and a multi-touch pad on the rear. Offering new game play experiences, it features two analog sticks, which enable a wider range of game genres.
Price: Starts at Rs 12,500  
Samsung Google Nexus S
This legendary high-end smartphone that arrived in April has a 4-inch contour display and runs on Google 2.3 Gingerbread OS, powered with 1GHz Hummingbird processor with 16GB internal memory.
Price: Rs 30,400 
Apple iPad 2
Apple left the cat out of the bag in May, and it surpassed competitors with its fine display quality. The new version is thinner, faster and lighter than the previous one.
Price: Starts at Rs 29,500
BlackBerry PlayBookOne of the most sought-after gadgets of the year, it hit Indian markets earlier this week. Featuring Wi-Fi support, it is available in 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB models. The 7-inch tablet is flat, black, and minimal in its design. It claims to provide Flash and HTML applications for a smooth browsing experience. It also has multi-touch capacitive display screen and dual camera.
Price: Starts at Rs 27,990
Nintendo Wii U
Unveiled in June, this next-generation game console features a 6.2-inch touchscreen controller. It can display information or provide different experience on its screen that is not visible on the TV.
Price: Yet to be announced


Pricing A Gig For Data

How to price a gigabyte of data is a dilemma confronting India's mobile operators as they steadily build up their 3G subscriber bases.
They are not alone in this dilemma. Operators worldwide have been scratching their heads for the past decade in an attempt to decide the optimal pricing model for data.
The consensus seems to be that they still haven't got the pricing right. CEOs such as Vodafone's Vittorio Colao remark with frustration that heavy data usage congests networks with users often paying less than their monthly voice and SMS contracts.
To put things in perspective, let's look back a decade when many of us were looking to justify the very high prices of 3G licences in Europe and North America. We produced models showing 3G subscribers would pay around $10 to watch a football or cricket match on their tiny 3G handsets (which barely existed then). What a load of nonsense that proved to be.
But that period of frenzied financial modelling started a pricing debate which is still raging today.
A decade on, we now have a range of versatile and powerful devices from which we can enjoy data and video. In addition to the 3G mobile handset and laptop, we now have the broad range of tablets, led by the iPad, which are fuelling data growth.
Instead of watching streamed football matches, we are now watching video on demand via YouTube and accessing practically any Internet site in the world at a time of our choosing.
For the operator, the download of bandwidth intensive data can congest networks which, as users in the likes of Mumbai and Delhi know, are often clogged at peak times just with voice and SMS traffic.
The rollout of 3G infrastructure over the past year by India's leading operators has helped alleviate congestion somewhat but as the rate of 3G subscriber growth accelerates, networks will start to become congested once more.
Thus the dilemma facing operators price a gigabyte of data to attract subscribers and stimulate usage but not to the extent of clogging networks.
Today in India, the 3G players seem to be pricing 2GB of data per month at a price of around 750 rupees ($17). This rate seems reasonable in the UK for example my data tariff with Vodafone is £12.50 per month ($19).
In Hong Kong a very mature and highly competitive market it is now possible to obtain an unlimited data package for US$14 per month.
There are differences between the UK/Hong Kong and India 3G markets though. The UK market is mature, with around 36 million 3G subscribers as at April 2011. Hong Kong had 6 million subscribers at the same date. India's 3G market only started in early 2011.
Here is where the dilemma kicks in. The UK and Hong Kong operators should theoretically be aiming to cool off usage through edging up data tariffs whereas their Indian peers should be stimulating usage. Yet the tariff packages are broadly the same.
These prices are for domestic data usage. When travellers want to use their devices on overseas travel, data tariffs can be incredibly high similar to international voice charges 20 years ago.
As an example, I was surprised to have been charged £25.50 ($39) per day by Vodafone for a maximum of 500MB of data when on a recent business trip to South Africa. And this was over VodaCom Vodafone's 65 percent owned subsidiary.
So Vodafone are probably underpricing me in my home market but grossly overcharging me when I travel overseas.
India's operators are busy analysing relatively mature 3G markets internationally for pricing guidance. But as the above example shows there are still substantial inconsistencies in supposedly mature markets.
The message for potential 3G subscribers in India is get signed up now. Network operators want your business and tariff levels compare reasonably on an international basis.
Be careful though when using your device overseas for mobile data as your bill for daily usage will dwarf your domestic monthly bill, at least for now.
The writer is the global head, telecoms, media and technology at Standard Chartered. The views expressed are the author's own.source