Posts Tagged 'Airtel'

India Telecom Wars Roundup

I have not been writing about the ongoing telecom wars because I was kind of waiting to see how actions-reactions play out and what track all the new and existing players take….

Today, this article is prompted by something that I saw while I was driving back home. Inoticed a large hoardng that announced “MTS launches 0.5p/sec for entire Karnataka on all networks” and I almost let out a whistle..wow, that is cheap and it takes the telecom wars to a new circle. Is this a desperate attempt of a new entrant with a large wherewithal in the global market, willing to rough it out for the sake of long term.

Tata Docomo focusses on “full value recharge” and Tata Indicom showcases its “digital clarity” in prime time advertisements, but both skirt the main issue in the air – lack of good network reach!

Airtel, in the meanwhile, launched its one second pulse and matched the competitors, after waiting for two months and losing its #1 status on per month new user additions. Vodafone, Idea and Reliance followed suit. I have to say this though, Reliance needs to stop blatant copying of ads and get creative. Their per second ads look exactly like Docomo’s minus the jazz. Tata Docomo as well as Tata Indicom, I must say, hats off to the creative team at Ulka and Lodestar Universal. But the networks need to execute on the hype – FAST. (Aside: Tata Docomo’s  friendship train ad by Ulka has no relevance. The tune is catchy and the picturization is good, but I fail to get the point…and I love the “digital clarity” ad campaign by Tata Indicom showcasing how the advanced network clarity conveys not only voice but the emotions behind it also…great work Lodestar)

BSNL was surprisingly proactive, launching the per second pulse offer just following the Tata Docomo splash! Not sure, how many takers it got. Somehow, their branding effort with insipid advertising and mishandling of the “first mover advantage of the 3G” has made them the laughing stock of the town, so not sure how many people jump at their offers anymore!

Well, to begin with, I need to admire the power of free markets. Without regulation the entire ecosystem has jumped on a bandwagon rolled by one player, that can be “visibly” beneficial to the customer. What’s next, then? Call for free and we will play ads every 30 secs while you speak? Any takers?

Per Second Billing Model (Not) Mandatory?

Ever since Tata Docomo made a splash in the indian telecom market with per second billing, TRAI has begun to mull over whether to make it compulsory or not. After the initial speculation surrounding this decision and the concerns over falling ARPUs expressed by the telecom operators, TRAI has finally decided to commision a consultation paper to study the matter and make recommendations by end of this year.

Per second billing would definitely mean lower ARPUs for the telecom operators, but will it help increase penetration? Is voice dying as a revenue source, just in time for the 3G roll outs in the country? Or does this mean that incoming calls will now be charged (per second alright, but both ways, like in the US)? And for lack of better options, will operators start charging for “missed calls” and offer a minimum number of “free missed calls” service as a freebie along with connections? Will per second billing be really good for consumers if the telecom operators’ interests are not taken care of?

However, in the meanwhile, TRAI has said that telecom operators are free to use per second billing as part of their product offering mix. It remains to be seen, even before the consultation report comes out how the per second billing wars pan out on the Indian turf. More power to cheaper, faster, stronger!

Airtel Special 5 Launches…

Teaser ads from Airtel that were launched as a repartee to Tata Docomo that promised an offer of 50p/min have been revealed in full – with the launch of Airtel Special 5.

A set of promising ads based on mobile usage analytics which apparently showed that most people call a close circle of about 5 people, the most. A very clever tactic to throw the attention away from the second pulse rate campaign that Tata Docomo has launched. So, without hitting them head on and pitching in with a similar offering, Airtel is attempting to woo its existing base to remain with it, by showing them – they care…good move!

However, two things don’t sort themselves out in the “special” scheme of things for me and they are:

1. Why is Airtel using children in its ads? – Have they realized that the Maddy-Vidya magic is not working anymore? Are they running out of real, adult-life ideas, thanks to “Idea”? Or are they hoping to emulate the fan following the vodafone, the pug with a girl – there for you always, ad has generated? Either way, the move from the market leader proves that when a new player enters the market,  they have to keep running, to stay in the same place.

2. If the above said publicized market research, which says that people call five people closest to them most, is actually true – then that means ARPU’s (average revenue per user) will drop even further, right? If the market research data quoted in the PR is true, that is, then what the market leader is doing is axing its golden goose, in return for Re.1/person/day that they would collect from you – you get to speak to any five people you chose in the country for just 50p/minute (local calls at 20p/min), well – probably not! But here is my logic, people who speak to their “special” people for a long time, figure out attractive plans on the best possible network, anytime and the others who are casual callers, might sign up for this plan but may or may not speak longer – so the hope that you can make up in volume what you lost in price, may not be valid. The only glimmer of hope is if they convert the heavy users…that is!

What do you think? Would love to hear from you…

The Airtel Repartee to (Tata) Docomo

“Why squeeze all you want to talk in seconds, talk all you want without worrying about seconds” – screams the Airtel repartee to the Tata Docomo’s new second pulse rate (1paise per 1sec) plan. The airtel plan works out cheaper – is only 1paise per 4sec and well and  is one of the cheapest block offer I have seen from them. However, the ad doesn’t say anything about what plans will have this? Is it only for new customers? Will it be available for switching? When will the offer be available? etc etc. It seemed like, just what I said…a repartee…

Is Airtel scared of Docomo? With the 3G rollout looming large, I’m sure they want to retain their database now, that they can start milking them with higher end services. What do you think?

ERRATA and POST-THOUGHTS: I just heard their ad again – it says 50p/min and not 15p/min. I apologize for the confusion. In this case, it is still 10p cheaper than the overall Tata Docomo offer, but the block of 30sec vs. 1sec is still not something I can wrap my head around. I quite like the set of ads that Tata Docomo is coming out with and the taglines –  “one second can change your life”, “pay only for the seconds you talk” etc. But, the proof of the pie is in the eating (connectivity, in this case!) – I would wait and watch….

The Waning Airtel Magic

Vidya Balan and Madhavan have been doing a series of ads for Airtel for about a year now. Seriously, they started out on the right note, the right subtle screen-couple spark, the right script and everything – but over the last few ads, the script has become weaker and the silent exchange of glances between the screen couple towards the end of each ad has become more annoying than ever, without conveying any meaning or adding any value to the Airtel brand. The warmth shared between them (or that is shown to be) does not translate to warmth with the Airtel brand in my mind!

Seriously, Airtel needs new ad series…hope they are measuring their effectiveness against the wildly successful zoozoos from Vodafone and do something before it is too late (or is it already?)

But, ad or no ad, I’m a staunch Airtel user and will not switch to Vodafone even for a better plan…!

A call in mid-air…Jai Ho, Airtel!

My flight was 15-20 minutes away from landing on Wednesday and I had forgotten to switch off my mobile phone (a feat I will never try out next time or ever!). The flight had been delayed and my number was being repeatedly tried from the ground and well, ahem…my mobile started ringing while the flight was still in the air! As I looked outside, the flight was hovering over the land area, the vehicles and buildings looked distant and very small. As the phone rang, I hurried to switch it off but one thing was ringing clear in my mind – what a range, sirji! and Jai Ho, Airtel!


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