Posts Tagged 'Tata Docomo'

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?

Tata Indicom Launches Per Call Billing

Even as the GSM arm of Tata’s experiments with the per second billing model in India in partnership with Docomo, the CDMA arm, Tata Indicom, has launched a innovative plan of “Per Call” based billing in local networks. This is a revolutionary concept and could probably be a last ditch effort on the part of Tata Indicom to increase its shrinking customer base.

However, the problem of signal non-availability plauges both the Tata networks alike and as I have mentioned in a couple of blogs earlier too, just decreasing the price for a call is not a sufficient enough reason for most consumers to switch. These marketing tactics without a long term focus on improving signal reach will only win them a transient customer base, at best. Connectivity in today’s world is assumed to be ubiquitious and when consumers want to reach each other in a timely manner they will not put up with nice sounding “not reachable” messages.

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!

Aircel Launches Youth Plan

Aircel (the 4th player in the telecom game, after Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, with majority presence in South India)  recently launched a Youth Plan…before, I go into the package details, think about it for a moment. Which is the segment that’s extremely price sensitive, could be a first time customer and does not really care about the quality of calls or signal availability? – The Youth Community – they want more SMS, more local calls, call groups at cheap rates and more at the lowest possible price. So, here comes Airtel with their “Youth Plan” delivering a package of 4500 free SMS, local call groups at 20p/min and more…at Rs. 150.

How does this help? Well, one of the new joinees in my group recently opted to go with Tata Docomo and not only that it is impossible to reach him, the call gets abruptly dropped several times while the conversation is going on and I’m told that the line is busy! But, he has no complaints, he doesn’t pay for anything more than he talks (by the second). Now, Aircel (which is likely to be most threatened of its position by the new entrant) with its youth plan is taking Tata Docomo head on in its very (possible) target market.

PS: I had mistakenly heard this advertisement to be for Airtel and hence written my post accordingly. I have corrected my mistake and redone my thoughts to account for the fact that it was actually launched by Aircel and not Airtel. Alas, what is in a name, huh!

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….


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