November 17, 2005
Indian Cellphone Market - statistics and interesting promos.

From: DNA India

With cellular subscriber base touching 2 million in October, the highest-ever mark, service providers are gearing up with attractive offers to further enhance their market shares.

Reliance Infocomm recently introduced the full money-back offer, under which a subscriber gets an LG 2340 handset free with a new connection. While the connection cost is Rs 2,500, it offers full talk-time of the equivalent amount.
The offer is open for both prepaid as well as postpaid customers across the country on new connections.

According to S P Shukla, wireless products and services president, Reliance Infocomm, "We found that a significant number of mobile phone users, who make high amount of outgoing calls, do not mind paying upfront for the benefit they derive. This offer marks the continuation of festive celebrations."

However, on loading people with new handsets with every new connections, he said, "Mobile penetration is increasing by the day and people who have other connections should sell off their old handsets and avail of the new lucrative offer."

Airtel pioneered the bundling offers as early as 1995 when mobile telephony took its roots in India. At present, Airtel has two schemes - recharge 599, which offers talk time of Rs 300 with a validity of six months, and recharge 995, which offers talk time of Rs 400 with 12 months validity.

Jayant Khosla, chief executive officer, mobility, Mumbai circle, Bharti Tele-Ventures told DNA, "We analysed the requirement of our customers and realised that there was a need for longer validity products. Thus, while the customer intends to restrict the recurring airtime spend to pre-decided limits, he also wants hassle free and longer validity time."

Airtel is also planning to further cash in on its success of hello tunes, by offering a slew of innovative personalised ringtone services. "In Maharashtra & Goa circle, Airtel has launched a new product called the 'Airtel Hum-It' ringtone that caters to customers growing demand for personalised ringtones," said Christopher Tobit, COO, Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd, Maharashtra & Goa circle.

The new service allows the user to simply hum or sing a song and use it as a personalised ringtone. Cellnext, India's wireless application and solutions provider, is providing this service to Airtel users. Airtel has also introduced a 'free flight' offer recently, wherein postpaid customers can avail of a free Indian Airlines return ticket.

The offer is valid for all existing post-paid customers who opt for the new monthly rental plan of Rs 349 and above. "To be a part of the Airtel offer, all new customers will have to pay Rs 599 as one-time activation fee, and Rs 500 as security deposit. The free flight offer is India's first by a telecom company and this is in line with the company's marketing strategy to offer innovative opportunities to customers," he added.

However, unlike Reliance and Airtel, BSNL and Hutch have not come up with matching offers though both companies stressed on competitive call rates and better connectivity.
"Being a state-owned company BSNL cannot bundle or give free handsets as we offer attractive call rates. BSNL provides lowest call charges in roaming and offers the state-of-the art connectivity and reception in remotest areas across the country where no other private operators have reached yet," said B L Bordia, general manager - marketing, BSNL (Maharashtra). 

According to Hutch spokesperson, "Hutch caters to a different segment compared to Reliance Infocomm. Hutch is more focused on better connectivity and services rather than giving free handsets to lure customers."

According to Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) figures, the cumulative GSM subscriber base grew 4.15% to 52.98 million last month from 50.87 million recorded in the previous month. While Bharti saw an increase of 6.7 lakh subscribers, BSNL reported a rise of 6 lakh users. Similarly, Hutch saw an increase of more than 4 lakh while Idea saw an increase of 1lakh subscribers.

The number of subscribers in the metros touched 13.06 million in October, up from 12.62 million in the previous month. Delhi and Mumbai continued to dominate in terms of volume and market share. Delhi continues to be the leading cellular market with 4.84-million subscribers accounting for 9.13% of the total market, followed closely by Mumbai with 4.71-million subscribers.