RCom: A key 3G advantage over other operators, is a completely fiberized backhaul which supports huge bandwidth and provides low latency





Prashant Gokarn, head-3G, Reliance Communications discusses how sachet pricing, try-and-buy and Mobile TV will lead the 3G adoption



How many 3G subscribers does RCom have till date, since its launch? Which city is seeing the most number of subscribers?



There has been a steady growth of 3G subscribers week on week, especially after the breaking of the TV campaign. The early adopters of 3G service are existing 2G subscribers with 3G handsets and we have seen good traction of our high-speed 3G datacards. RCOM has launched 3G in over 150 cities, thereby having the widest coverage among private operators. While the bulk of the demand is from the primary metros of Mumbai and Delhi, the reception from the next tier of towns has been very encouraging.



We believe that adoption of 3G will be strongly driven by the following factors: 3G handset price points have fallen very fast and have already breached the sub Rs.5000 mark, there has been a significantly superior experience on 3G compared to existing 2G services especially rich multimedia services and live video content, there is an active ecosystem of app / service developers and content providers which will drive VAS revenues.



Do you believe that the low tariffs for 3G, has helped in added growth of your GSM numbers?



RCOM has best-in-class infrastructure, with a pan-India next generation network, covering over 24,000 towns and six lakh villages. RCOM owns and operates the world’s largest next generation IP enabled connectivity infrastructure, comprising over 277,000 kilometers of fibre optic cable systems. This has enabled us to offer the highest quality of 3G connectivity.  



However affordable tariffs are the key for mass adoption of 3G services. Keeping this in mind, we have offered competitive tariffs on most of our 3G products – for eg. on video calling, we have a subsidized night calling rate of 2p/sec.



We are also offering very good handset bundling offers with leading handset manufacturers, where the user gets attractive plans on Mobile broadband, Mobile TV, Video Calling, and more. Also with the new R World portal, App store and Video portal, we are bringing 3G services not only to the high end smart phones, but the regular feature phones used by the majority of the Indian telecom user base.



Hence, while lower tariffs will help higher penetration, it is the relevance of the services offered that will ultimately translate to higher revenues.



What are some of the unique 3G VAS offerings, which are not currently available with your competitors? How do you plan to add to these?



RCOM has launched an array of unique 3G / VAS offering with a distinct edge from the competition. Some of the primary ones include being the only operator to offer the highest network speed of 28 Mbps in metros, and the only one to offer a 21 Mbps 3G datacard in all cities of launch; an exclusive tie-up with Nokia Ovi to bring premium paid apps on the Ovi Store only to Reliance customers; a brand new R World portal with complete customization and unique single-login access to all email and social networking accounts – not offered by any other operator; Facebook app completely free for three months providing smartphone like experience for all users – exclusively by Reliance for three months; mobile TV with the largest channel offering and a completely unique advanced DTH-like Electronic Program Guide (EPG) with ability to set program reminders; and R Pilot – a compete navigation product offering turn-by-turn directions and POI search for over 600 cities across India



How was the uptake of your free Mobile TV service with 3G? Do you believe that mobile TV will be a major puller for RCOM’s 3G services?



The adoption rate for mobile TV during the trial period was extremely good – especially since the experience was far superior compared to the existing 2G product. At the end of the free period, almost half of the trial users subscribed to the paid Mobile TV plans thereby showing extremely good stickiness for the product.



Mobile TV will be one of the key 3G products especially with high-quality video-on-demand content and live sporting feeds.



Mobile Broadband will be the single most important offering on 3G. Among the other services, apps & games download, video calling, entertainment /sports content and social networking access will be the important services.



Any plans of offering sachet pricing or small 3G packages for rural areas in the near future?



RCOM currently already offers sachet pricing on most of its products. This includes daily plan on mobile broadband, per day and per channel subscription on Mobile TV, paid apps for as low as Rs 5 besides a bunch of free apps on the Reliance app store R Apps.



However currently 3G is being launched in urban areas, and will reach rural areas in the next few years.



What new 3G offerings does RCom offer since its roll-out last year? How is this helping you to ward off other 3G operators?



Keeping the customer as the focal point of our services, RCOM has offered some unique features and services. These include Try and buy customers get to try out the services before they pay, complete flexibility on 3G Mobile Broadband with ability to use the same SIM and common plan on handset and dongles, browsing R World and R Apps is entirely free, full transparency in billing with no hidden costs, fully equipped experience zones in our stores to get hands-on demo of 3G services.


Also, a key advantage over other operators, is a completely fiberized backhaul which supports huge bandwidth and provides the lowest latency among all operators.



By Beryl M

[email protected]