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Bharti Airtel launches pay-per-use conferencing
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India’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel is planning to add a new portfolio of video conferencing (VC) solutions to its business. The company will now offer managed VC services on demand for its enterprise customers, making VC a pay per use solution.

Under the traditional model of video conferencing, a customer buys the hardware, bridge services and the network from different companies. Airtel plans to combine all three into one solution, and offer it as a pay per use solution to businesses in India.

“Currently the customer has to manage 3 separate bills (for bridge, network and hardware). The customer has to wait for all the three services to be commissioned before he can actually use it. This leads to huge frustration and disspointment at the customers end. Airtel will change it so that there is only one point of contact for all the three components,” said Milan Rao, CEO, Enterprise Services at Bharti Airtel.

A large number of players like Tandberg, Cisco, Polycom, Lifesize provide video hardware for VC solutions in India. At present, the hardware market size for VC solutions is close to Rs 150 crore and network services market is about Rs 50-70 crore in the country. Airtel is partnering with Cisco and Polycom for these solutions.

“With multiple players to coordinate with, the average utilization of a typical VC setup is approximately 15 hours per month and does not justify the investment. We plan to alleviate that and reduce cost for the customers,” Mr Rao added.

Bharti Airtel plans to offer VC solutions without hardware ranging from Rs 20,000-Rs 50,000, provided customers already possess the hardware. It plans to offer usage based VC solutions without hardware costing a maximum of Rs 20,000 at Rs 24/min of call. The company will offer other concierge and 24x7 services for streaming, recording, dial-in/dial outs etc.

But in a market highly crowded with different players offering bundled VC services, it will be interesting to note how Airtel’s new business will fare.
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