Pun intended: you can ring in the New Year in style.
The New Year is set to unlock a bounty of competitive tariffs and more value added services for mobile telephone customers. A free market is doing its job.
The industry regulator allowed free entry into the sector in August and the government is busy sorting out spectrum allocation and licences for new applicants. Meanwhile, CDMA-based players like Reliance and Tata Teleservices are set to enter GSM telephony, taking on Vodafone and Bharti Airtel.
Consumers can look forward to some corporate serenading.
“In the first part of the year we would be able to see better packages and more value added services, while in the latter part of the year, when all the issues related to spectrum are expected to be resolved, we would see more players and the competition resulting in a lowering of tariffs”, said Usha Rajeev, telecom consultant with Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
At least two to three new players are expected to enter the telecom space, apart from Reliance and Tata ‘s diversification. As many as 46 applicants are in the queue to get pan-India licences. Industy experts say that with increased competition there is a scope for mobile telecom tariffs to fall by almost 50 percent.
Overall, India’s telecom market crossed 264 million connections with a tele-density of 23.21 per cent at the end of November 2007. But most new additions are taking place on wireless lines, with almost 7 to 8 million subscriber additions taking place. The country’s mobile phone subscribers alone crossed 225 million at the end of November.
Telecom operators are introducing innovative value added services, including content, ringtones, games and news, almost on a daily basis, 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 November.
The government is also expected to inch closer towards outlining regulatory guidelines for Mobile TV and auction spectrum enabling operators to offer the service. Mobile TV is expected to bring television right onto the consumer’s palms.
With DoT already talking about sharing of spectrum, Mobile Virtual, Network Operators (MVNO) may also become a reality in 2008. This implies that companies with spectrum would be allowed to share their resources with the MVNOs, who buy minutes of use in bulk and offer telecom services under their own brand and customer service.