Telecom companies are not only offering innovative value added services (VAS) during festive seasons, they have also begun to succeed on their efforts to cash in on the buoyant festive mood.
Not just the exchange of SMS greetings, even festival specific Caller Ring Back Tones (CRBT), wallpapers and innovative services are getting downloaded in increased numbers by mobile phone users.
“There is a 100 per cent increase in the daily volume of SMSes for telecom operators”, says Kunal Bajaj of BDA, a telecom Consulting firm.
Yatin Pahwa, vice-president, new product development, at Bharti Airtel, says SMS traffic increased by two to three times during the festive period compared to the non-festive times, and says that there has been a “heightened awareness” among mobile phone users regarding non-SMS value-added services.
Krishna Durbha, vice president, Value Added Services, at Reliance Communications says, “Demand for value added services during the festive period, including the non-SMS content, increases by about 25 per cent of the total demand across the year.” According to industry reports, while Reliance Communications has the highest percentage of ARPU (average revenue per user) from non-SMS data among all the leading operators, Vodafone is also trying to replicate its international VAS strategy to strengthen its offering in India.
Packages with discounts are also offered in the regions where the particular festival is more popular. For example, telecom companies will be targeting Kerala, Mumbai, Goa, Delhi and Bangalore for Christmas, and the North for Id, while for the occasions like the New Year and Diwali, mobile phone users all across the country will be targeted.
Specialised services are also much in demand. “We have SMS 2.0 application, which can be downloaded from the Airtel Live on GPRS enabled handsets. This allows one to send colourful messages, as well as attach pictures to one’s SMS,” Airtel’s Pahwa said. Reliance Communications has a service called ‘Light A Candle on the R World,’ through which one get a candle lit on one’s name at Velankanni Church in Tamil Nadu in front of the statue of Mother Mary for Rs 25 to Rs 100. The Velankanni Church is known as the Mecca of the Christians. The name of the person who opts for the service remains in the record of the church.
The value added service market, which is observing a growth of 40 to 45 per cent per annum, is expected to be $950 million by end 2007. Experts have predicted the market to grow to $2.5 billion by 2010.