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Mobile VAS drives Indian telecom growth
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Bangalore: Backed by Indian youths, music and gaming are going to be cherry on the pie for the Indian telecom sector growth, with value-added services (VAS) estimated to reach over Rs. 16,500 crore by 2010.

With 400 million mobile phone subscribers, and the growth showing no signs of freezing, India is touted as a mobile hotspot globally. What has been driving growth for the last few years is the huge potential in rural and semi-urban areas, where the quality of infrastructure and services in fixed line is not good. So today, the mobile is being seen as a tool to connect the unconnected. Indian operators have done a commendable job of reaching out to the remotest parts of the country.


Moderating the panel discussion on 'Mobile Applications Explored, Who wins and who loses' at Mobile Application Conference (MAC) organized by SiliconIndia in Bangalore, Dilip R Mehta, Mentor and Advisor, N S Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL), Indian Institute of Management Bangalore said, "VAS remains the best revenue hope for operators as the ARPU (Average Revenue Per Unit) for voice plunging to newer lows. The change in favour of VAS started to happen when leading operators in India opened up for ringtones. The advent of App Stores and iPhones added a wholly new dimension to mobile applications (apps)."

According to the analytical study 'Indian Telecom Analysis (2008-2012)' by RNCOS, a market research and information analysis company; mobile VAS has been expanding to rural areas where more VAS in banking, gaming data and TV segments will be seen. This will further improve the profit margins of the service providers over the current SMS VAS. Moreover, with 3G mobile services set to be rolled out in India, service providers would increasingly bank upon the VAS segment to bring in additional revenues. Hence, wireless teleconferencing, multi-player online games, m-commerce and larger screen-sized videos will gain momentum too. Moreover, the mobile VAS is offered on multiple platforms such as SMS, voice and Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) enabled services. People availing these services are spread across every corner of the country, due to the telecom revolution. Strong growth in the subscriber base of the telecom sector is also taking the business of mobile VAS to new heights in the country.

Currently, Nokia's Ovi Store, the Android OS, Blackberry App World, Apple's App Store and Microsoft give thousands of independent developers a relatively quick and easy route to reach consumer's fingertips. With the current explosion of new apps, it is expected that the market for mobile apps will be 'as big as the internet', peaking at 10 million apps in 2020. The excitement around mobile apps is likely to have a major impact on the economy, and way of life. Prashant Dogra, Customer Marketing Manager, Navteq said, "Amongst the segments of mobile VAS, location-based systems have by far the most matured technology in place. However, we still need to work harder in terms of value creation and revenue models."

Today, no consumer business worth its name is ignoring the potential of reaching out to customers through mobile apps, for customer service, marketing and of late for transactions. By and large, that is what is driving Indian enterprise mobile apps adoption in the initial phase of the market rollout.

On the similar note, SiliconIndia provided a platform to around 25 companies through MAC to connect directly with their customers and competitors. All the companies exhibited their products and services and gave live demonstrations in their booths. They also had an opportunity to present their business plans in the auditorium in front of entrepreneurs and the general public. Over 4000 people from different walks of the IT industry thronged NIMHANS Convention Center in Bangalore to attend MAC, which also saw the participation of over 100 CEOs and around 300 entrepreneurs.

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