Thursday, February 10, 2011

TRAI suggestion disastrous, say mobile operators

Its like changing the goal posts in middle of the game, says COAI
While the government can rejoice on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommendations on pricing of the 2G spectrum, mobile operators, particularly old ones, have all the reason to worry as they will have to pay hefty amounts for spectrum they are holding or have asked for. This would not only hit the earnings of telecom companies, but may also force them to hike tariffs to cover up for the outgo.
Reacting to the proposed six-fold hike for pan-India 2G spectrum, from Rs.1,658 crore (2001 prices) to Rs.10,972 crore (2010 prices) and Rs.4,571 crore for one 1 MHz of pan-India spectrum, the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI), which represents GSM operators, termed the recommendations “disastrous.”
“The TRAI's recommendations are like changing the goal posts in the middle of the game. We cannot go among subscribers and recover it. The assumptions used by TRAI are open to question… it has used very sophisticated mathematical modelling. It may take a couple of weeks for us to understand, but on the face of it, these look very disastrous for the industry,” COAI Director-General Rajan Mathews said.
Bharti Airtel said the TRAI recommendations went against the stated principle of the government to offer affordability, fairness and level-playing field. There seems to be huge inconsistency in terms of the differences of prices in various circles, it said.
“The proposed pricing of spectrum renewal fails to provide a level-playing ground between the older operators and those who have got licences in 2008. Thus, while 2008 licensees walk away with spectrum for 20 years at 2001 pricing, the older operators whose licences come up for renewal in few years will have to pay exorbitant one-time charges. Level-playing field demands that the price for spectrum allocated in 2008 to the new operators and cross over technology operators, should be the same, whatever is implemented for the renewal of licences,” it said.
All spectrum given under 2G bands — GSM as well as CDMA — must be clubbed and considered as ‘total allocated spectrum' for purpose of pricing and eligibility, it added.
However, new operators who are still to roll out their services due to scarcity of spectrum believe that this would force old players to vacate spectrum which they have been hoarding and help them to start their services. “This would legalise the additional spectrum hoarded by GSM players at a fraction of the cost. The contracted limit of spectrum is 6.2 MHz and the government must seek return of additional spectrum without any delay. Moreover, the price of additional spectrum is just one-time entry fee, whereas it should be recurring on an annual basis,” a senior executive of a new operator said.source

Alcatel-Lucent Partners with DeviceAnywhere to Help Mobile Operators Launch New Services

Alcatel-Lucent, a major telecom infrastructure equipment provider, and DeviceAnywhere, a provider of mobile application testing, have partnered to help developers and mobile operators launch new services more quickly.

Both companies are trying to accelerate application testing and certification, reducing development costs and removing fragmentation barriers. By offering laptop access to service provider’s mobile devices in the cloud, the companies make it easier for service providers to fill their apps stores with new voice, data, multimedia and video services.
With the integration of Alcatel-Lucent’s Developer Platform andDeviceAnywhere’s (News - Alert) TestCenter, developers can instantly and remotely test and certify their apps across thousands of mobile devices on live global networks.
 “Application submission and certification is arguably the biggest challenge for operators to overcome before they can successfully launch their own application storefronts,” said Faraz Syed (News - Alert), CEO and co-founder, DeviceAnywhere, in a statement. “By introducing proof-based certification on live, networked devices, operators can empower their developer partners to manage their own certification process, yet still retain full control of the testing results.”
Besides improving the end-user reach, this cloud-based testing improves subscriber discovery of cool new Web, mobile and video apps, which accelerates return on investment for operators and developers alike.
“The integration of DeviceAnywhere’s technology further strengthens Alcatel-Lucent’s Developer Platform, which is the industry’s most comprehensive solution for helping service providers open up their networks and manage their own application storefronts,” said Scott Monson, director of Alcatel-Lucent’s (News  -Alert) application services, in a statement.
Developers can use their personal computer to quickly and economically verify their apps to ensure that they are running smoothly on networks, devices and operating systems. This kind of cloud-based testing helps speed up the introduction into apps stores, company officials said.
A recent report from Multimedia Research Group (MRG) said Alcatel-Lucent is leading the IPTV (News  - Alert) Access market worldwide. The company has been leading the IPTV Access market since 2007. Read the full report here.

A Mobile service that saves voicemail and recordings to the cloud

Irish company RecordMyCall.ie has developed a new service that allows the user to record all important phone calls and save all valuable voicemail messages to the internet cloud.
The service requires no purchase or installation of equipment and works from mobiles and landlines. The cloud-based offering works by dialling just one number.
RecordMyCall.ie also allows you to record a meeting or dictate notes and as such this service will prove hugely beneficial for solicitors, doctors, accountants and journalists, amongst other professional users.
Recordings can be immediately emailed for dictation and backup, eliminating the need to return to the office with a dictaphone.
Adventurer Pat Falvey has also started using RecordMyCall.ie to record his daily reports as he treks across the ice and snow to the North Pole - he wanted a solution that took his call recording at any time and had the ability to email the MP3 file to his website.

Voicemail has become a critical part of people’s lives

With more than 5m mobile phones in use in Ireland, voicemail has become a critical part of people’s personal and business lives.
The voicemail service is operational across O2, Vodafone, Meteor, 3 and Tesco Mobile.
Users register using a mobile phone by calling 01 52 42 171. RecordMyCall sends you a welcome text – you reply with your email address and all recordings are automatically sent to this email address (recordings are in a standard MP3 format).
Recordings are securely encrypted, and users must comply with the Irish Data Regulator.
The cost of using the service ranges from 1 cent per minute to record a meeting or dictate notes, to 10 cents a minute to record a landline call, to 25 cents a minute to record a valuable voicemail message.
“We believe Recordmycall.ie will prove an invaluable service in people’s lives and we are currently offering a free trial,” Paul McCarthy of RecordMyCall.ie said.
“For now, you can use this service to call any landline or mobile numbers, 0818 and 1850 numbers.
“And we will soon be able to offer international call recording. Our secure computer data centre is located in Ireland and our website was designed and developed in Ireland. We’re an Irish business supporting Irish businesses.” source

22.62 million mobile users added in December

India added 22.62 million mobile phone subscribers in December, taking the total number of cellular users in the country to 752.19 million till Dec 31, official data said. 

According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India ( TRAI )), the wireless phone user base grew 3.10 percent in December 2010, from 729.57 million in November. 

But the report said that in December the total number of active subscribers was only 529.22 million. 

The growth in wireless phone category was led by Reliance Communication with an addition of 3.3 million users, 14.54 percent of the country's net addition in December, taking its user base to 125.65 million. 

Telecom giant Bharti Airtel followed next with an addition of over 3.1 million subscribers accounting for 13.71 percent of the net addition in December, taking its total number of subscribers to 152.5 million 

Vodafone stood at the third spot with an addition of 3 million subscribers, taking its total subscriber base to 124.26 million. State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) added 2.98 million subscribers and thus has 86.71 million subscribers. 

Other telecom players such as Idea Cellular performed remarkably well with the addition of 2.95 million users, closely followed by Uninor, which added 2.31 million users. This took their total subscriber base to 81.78 million and 18.51 million respectively. 

According to the data, the broadband subscriber base grew 1.88 percent from 10.71 million in November to 10.92 million in December 2010. 

However, the wireline segment declined marginally from 35.19 million in November to 35.09 million at the end of December 2010.source

MNP or Mujhe Nahi Pata service?

With the much-hyped Mobile Number Portability (MNP) service, one would expect customers, who have long been frustrated with their service provider, heaving a sigh of relief. But sadly that is not the case.
Vikrant Jain, a professional in Ahmedabad, was very excited about the introduction of the MNP service. He was convinced that he would be able to switch to a better service provider and retain his old number at the same time. Three days after the MNP was introduced, Jain put forward his request to switch from Reliance to Aircel.
Despite TRAI's norm and the initial response from Aircel to effect the change within seven working days, Jain is yet to get a response from them, even after a fortnight. He also tried sending email reminders to both the service providers, but in vain.
And Jain is not the lone case. Many customers wishing to switch providers are facing the same problem.
Take the case of 68-year-old Nimesh Pujara (name changed) who applied to shift from Reliance to Vodafone. Pujara was denied the Unique Porting Code (UPC), which is essential to change the service provider, by Reliance. "I sent more than five mails to get the status but Reliance refuses to provide me with the code," he said.
In fact, consumers have nicknamed MNP as Mujhe Nahi Pata service, as service providers are clueless when consumers ask for any clarity.
Kalpesh Khara, a professional in Rajkot is yet another victim. Khara claims that he sent an SMS to 1900 on January 22 as he wanted to switch from Airtel to Idea or Vodafone.
"For that I need a UPC, which I will get from their customer care number 1901, after I send them a text message at 1900. I sent the text message thrice to this number. However, despite waiting for more than 12 days, I have not received the UPC to help me switch over to other operator service," Khara said.
"I emailed Reliance customer care more than 50 times and Aircel more than 20 times to get the status of my request but both the companies are completely clueless. When Reliance issued the UPC, Aircel said the code was incorrect. Aircel also said that Reliance conveyed to them that I had signed an agreement with them whereas I have never done anything like that," said Jain.
Jain said he also wrote to the principal secretary of TRAI. "I was told that the UPC is valid only for a fortnight. I can't recharge my number as it would be wasted if I move to Aircel. According to norms, the balance in prepaid account cannot get transferred to a postpaid account. So, I have to make do with a top-up of Rs10 and Rs 20 every day," he said.source

World Cup matches on your Mobile by VODAFONE

Cellular service provider Vodafone Essar on Thursday said it has tied up with the official broadcaster of the upcoming cricket World Cup ESPN Star Sports (ESS) for live streaming of the matches on mobile phones.
As a co-presenting broadcast sponsor, Vodafone will enable its subscribers to see ‘ball-by-ball’ live coverage of 49 matches of the event that begins from February 19 onwards.
“The 2011 cricket season in India coincides with an exciting time in the telecom industry, when mobile number portability and 3G are buzz words and the entire consumer base is being wooed afresh by incumbent and new competitors alike,” Vodafone Essar Chief Marketing Officer Mr Kumar Ramanathan said in a statement.
Live streaming of the matches on ‘ESPN Mobile TV’ can be availed on both 2G (GPRS enabled) and 3G handsets, the statement said.
Vodafone will also launch an on-air advertising campaign around the World Cup soon. source

Future Group Targeting Rs 200-300 cr from 'T24'

Kishore Biyani-led Future Group today said its telecom venture launched under the brand 'T24' would add Rs 200-300 crore to its topline within a year, even as it plans to open seven more Big Bazaar stores in the northern region. 

"The T24 mobile service is expected to add Rs 200 to Rs 300 crore to Future Group's total sales which is (pegged at) Rs 10,000 crore," Future Group CEO (Telecom) Mayur Toshniwal told reporters here, after launching T24 mobile services in Punjab and Haryana. 

Future Group rolled its GSM mobile service under T24 brand in alliance with Tata Teleservices last year and it is currently providing mobile services in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh. 

"T24 mobile service is targeted at a very niche market...our focus is on shoppers, especially women who like to shop in our stores and this service will increase the loyalty we enjoy among millions of customers who patronise our stores," he said. 

T24 offers per second rates for pre-paid customers on the Tata Teleservices network. 

The main highlight of this mobile service is that customers will be rewarded with free talk time for shopping in Big Bazaars or Pantaloon stores at certain price levels. 

For example, if a customer spends Rs 2,001 in Big Bazaar, he/she would gain Rs 84 worth free talk time. Customers will also be rewarded with special deals and promotional schemes at Future Group stores every time they buy paid recharge. 

"The mobile connection will be available at Future Group stores such as Big Bazaar, while recharge vouchers will be available at all Tata Teleservices stores," he said. 

Since the launch of T24 last year, the company has made a subscribers base of 6 lakh. 

"We will soon roll out our services in Rajasthan, Mumbai, MP, Chhattisgarh...by March, we will have presence in all circles," he said. 

Future Group also plans to open more Big Bazaar stores in Punjab and Haryana to deepen its penetration. "We will open Big Bazaar stores in Ludhiana, Baddi, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Mohali, Rohtak and Yamunanagar," he said. 

Future Group has Big Bazaar stores in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Bathinda, Zirakpur, Ambala and Panipat.source

Aircel plans 3G roll out before World Cup

Aircel will become the fourth private sector telecom company to launch 3G services with a roll out across 13 circles 
before February 19. “We will be launching our 3G services commercially for our subscribers before the cricket World Cup that begins February 19,” said Aircel’s chief operating officer, Gurdeep Singh.

Singh said it would be a phased launch across 13 circles where it has 3G spectrum and all circles will be covered by the time the World Cup gets underway. However, he refused to identify the circle from which the services will be launched.

Singh said it would be a phased launch across 13 circles where it has 3G spectrum and all circles will be covered by the time the World Cup gets underway. However, he refused to identify the circle from which the services will be launched.

The prices for its 3G services will be competitive, Singh added. Aircel won 3G spectrum for 13 circles in the auctions conducted last year. It paid Rs 6,499.46 crore with the maximum amount going for Karnataka circle where it forked out Rs 1,579.91 crore. The country is divided into 22 circles and no operator won a pan-India licence for 3G services. “The roaming agreements with other telecom companies are still being worked out and they would take some time, possibly after the World Cup,” he said.

Aircel also won bids for broadband wireless access (BWA) for eight circles, paying Rs 3,438.01 crore. “The BWA roll out will happen towards the latter half of the year and we will take a call on whether to opt for LTE or WiMAX technology towards end of March,” Singh said.

Aircel will be the second private sector telecom company after Bharti Airtel to launch 3G services this year. Last year, Tata Teleservices (TTSL) and Reliance Communications (RCom) had launched their 3G services at similar tariffs. TTSL that launched its 3G services in November last year, set the ball rolling with tariffs that work out to less than a paisa per second.

Its tariffs start from Rs 350 for pre-paid offering of 500 minutes talk time and 150 MB of 3G data while for post-paid subscribers, tariffs start from Rs 500 for offering 750 minutes of talk time and 250 MB of 3G data. Its stand-alone data packs start from a minimum of Rs 90 for pre-paid offering of 100 MB of 3G data and Rs 200 for post-paid offering of 200 MB of 3G data.

Rcom that launched its 3G services last December, offers its prepaid customers packages between Rs 299 and Rs 699, with a talk time of 300 and 600 minutes and data of 200MB and 500MB respectively. For post paid subscribers, the company offers three plans – Rs 199 for 300 minutes of talk time with 50MB data, Rs 499 for 1,000 minutes of talk time with 100 MB of data and Rs 2,499 for 6,000 minutes of talk time and 5 GB data. Tariff at the highest end works out to 42 paisa per minute.

Airtel’s tariff structure offers time-based plans for light users of data, with usage and billing by the hour while for heavy users the company offers flexi-shield plans where usage and billing will be capped.

Accordingly, light usage subscribers can choose from packs of value Rs 10, Rs 45 and Rs 60 packs, medium users can pick a 30-day pack of either Rs 200, Rs 450 or Rs 750, while heavy users get 1.25 GB free by paying Rs 650 and in case data usage exceeds the limit, they would be charged 10 paisa per MB.source