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Indians famous for missed calls!

The Indian mobile user seems to have mastered the art of 'missed calls', and communicates without answering calls!

india Updated: Mar 16, 2006 13:19 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

French turn off their mobiles during meals, Chinese call and hang up after few seconds while Spanish are reluctant to use voicemail. But when it comes to Indians, it is the missed call they are most (in)famous for.

The Indian mobile user seems to have mastered the art of 'missed calls' - and actually to communicate without answering the calls!

While cellphone operators are reluctant to give the exact share of missed calls, according to industry estimates, it is somewhere around 20-25 per cent.

Writes Nick Gray in a moblog (mobile blog) - in India 'Missed Calls' were very popular, as a way to say "I'm thinking about you" or "Call me back." I would often hear someone say, "I'll send you a missed call when we get there - see you soon."

"Even though cellular tariffs are pretty low, people were ingeneously using 'Missed calls' for signalling and saving money.. The call rates are already low but most users want to make it lower by resorting to missed calls," says V Kumar, a cellphone user, who on an average gets around 10-15 missed calls every day.

"It's very irksome to call back someone every half an hour for no work of yours," says Kumar, noting the problem is more in case of office goers as callers think the office is going to pay for call back."

However, Kobita Desai, principal telecom analyst, Gartner, says "users tend to resort to giving missed calls when the message to be conveyed is just to make an announcement of one's presence or somewhat in those lines."

"But there is a natural progression towards wanting to communicate more than just merely indicating one's arrival. That is driven by a real need to communicate and getting habituated to using a medium to do so this is not going to be a major issue in future," says Desai.

"There is also a situation when the other person has to call back. No doubt mobile tariffs are quite low and the price differential with fixed is very narrow. However that is not necessarily the case with prepaid tariffs which is still significantly higher and also the pulse rate is shorter. Mobile calls are billed at 60 secs whereas fxied calls are billed at 180 secs."

"There's still a perception that mobile rates are high and understandably so. With almost 75 per cent of subscribers being prepaid, the impact could be quite significant unless the price differentials narrow down significantly. Also a prepaid user has better visibility of his usage since he has a credit limit dependent on what he has already paid for," says Desai.

But when it comes to 'who loses and who gains on missed calls', Desai says "it would depend on where the call originates from. If more calls originate from the fixed network then the lion's share of the call revenue is retained by fixed network operator. However they would have to give a percentage to the mobile network as an interconnect or termination cost. Or vice versa. Often missed calls happen within mobile networks as well. Here there is loss of revenue on both sides, especially if the called party has caller line identification."

"Missed calls have to originate from some network. So there's always percentage given as interconnect/termination to the network on which the calls terminate. However good interconnect rates are dependent on the volume of traffic generated. In a non monopoly environment like India's mobile industry, it becomes difficult for a carrier to arbitrage on good interconnect rates if they only invite incoming traffic," she says.

"Further not getting threshold revenue (Cost of servicing + margins) from their home subscribers may affect business sustainability in the mid to long term," notes Desai.

But for the customer, it's all about money in this case! Who needs etiquette when it costs you money!

First Published: Mar 16, 2006 13:00 IST