Airtel sees data and VAS as big opportunities to combat low ARPU

Telecom Lead @ GSMA
 Bharti Airtel sees data and related value-added
services as the biggest opportunities in India.

India has more than 900 million mobile users and Bharti
Airtel is the number one telecom operator in terms of both revenue and
subscriber base.

However, 3G is yet to take off in India. Recently, Bharti
Airtel and several other operators including Idea Cellular, Vodafone, Aircel,
Reliance Communications, BSNL and MTNL announced significant reduction in 3G
data tariffs.

Fixed broadband is also not growing significantly.
Currently, the number of broadband users is around 14 million.

The best way to combat the challenges presented by
declining tariffs, growing network operating expenses and high regulatory costs
is to look to these areas for future growth,” said Sanjay Kapoor, CEO of Bharti
Airtel – India and South Asia.
Bharti Airtel is the first Indian operator to launch TD-LTE service in India. The mobile giant recently launched 4G in Kolkata and Bangalore.
Providing affordable Internet access to existing urban customers through
broadband wireless will be critical but rural areas could be even more

Kapoor said while there is untapped potential in India’s
expansive rural markets in the voice segment, the next big thing after the
success of the voice story in India could be data.
Rural mobile penetration currently stands at just under 40 percent, leaving
significant room for network expansion.

The ability to make large investments in the network is
required particularly in India to take broadband to the masses.

Indian operators are in the process of expanding their 3G
networks across the country.
With the high costs of building this infrastructure in rural areas, the
inclusion of data-enabled services would be a good use of resources,
Considering the high cost of operation and infrastructure required for rural
expansion, the mobile platform is the most efficient and effective way to offer
various services like financial inclusion, health and education in rural
India,” he said.
Kapoor feels India is at the cusp of a data revolution with the demand for data
products and services increasing with feature phone and smartphone penetration.
Driven by India’s young population, this data revolution has the capability of
bridging the digital divide between the developed world and the developing
world when it comes to data consumption.

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