3GSM Asia: Indian growth to be driven by content

In terms of net adds per month, India is the world’s fastest growing mobile market, but cut throat competition in the voice telephony space has left operators seeking new ways to drive revenues. In a country with a large youth population, India’s leading operators see mobile content of all kinds as a strong channel for future growth.

Speaking at 3GSM World Congress Asia in Singapore this week, Ashok Juneja, corporate director and CTO at Bharti Airtel, said that Bharti, like many other Indian operators, had abandoned all financial models based on ARPU.

“Instead we look at the cost per minute and revenue per minute. So increasing minutes of use per subscriber is key to us,” he said.

Although the country has overtaken China as the mobile market with the greatest additions per month, now netting over 6 million subscribers per month, voice tariffs have dropped from the equivalent of $0.15 to $0.01 in just five years. “This level of competition is unsustainable,” said Juneja. “This has not happened in any other market and is largely responsible for a growth rate which has driven the country’s subscriber base to over 100 million.

“Cut throat competition has made the consumer happy,” he said. But going forward, Bharti is looking to the country’s large youth population and increasingly focusing on value added services as well as music, m-commerce and mobile TV.

“If we can get the technology right to deliver something like Bollywood content – if we think smart and think about affordability – we have access to a billion strong market,” he said.

But Juneja acknowledged that crucial to this strategy is making feature rich handsets affordable. “Bharti intends to bring handset prices down to $10,” he said.

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