The ''China phenomenon'' in the wireless world is now
being witnessed in India marked by an explosion
of the wireless market. The results are in and
the numbers are impressive.
operators in India are expected to earn $8 billion in
revenue by 2007, up from $1.5 billion in 2002. Data,
which currently contributes $0.8 billion towards their
revenue, is slated to expand to $1.36 billion
or 17 per cent of the total revenues by 2007,
according to Gartner. India has a little over 16-million
cell phone users today.
booming scenario is true for Asia as a whole. Asia now
accounts for 36 per cent of the world''s telecom market
(up from 21 per cent in early 1991, and expected to
reach 50 per cent in 2007), 33 per cent of the world''s
Internet user base (225 million Internet users, or an
average of 6.3 users per 100 inhabitants), 95 per cent
of the world''s 3G mobile users, 47 per cent of the world''s
ADSL broadband Internet users, and seven of the world''s
top 10 most profitable telecom operators (International
Telecommunications Union, 2002). It also has the world''s
largest regional user base of cell phones and is also
a pioneering player in cutting-edge 3G and 2.5G markets.
The wireless explosion has opened up a wide spectrum
of opportunities and challenges for different segments
of society: consumers, technology vendors, the media,
businesses and regulators.
Although stock market valuations project gloom-and-doom
scenarios for a number of wireless players in India,
consumers have never had it so good in terms of access
options, pricing competition and communications convenience.
are rapidly taking to data services like SMS due to
the low cost of messaging, ease of use in noisy environments,
the ability to communicate unobtrusively during meetings,
communication options during urban traffic grid locks
and long-train commutes, roaming agreements across nations,
and the proliferation of premium services (downloadable
ring tones, news alerts, sports scores, stock updates,
Business travellers, managers at multiple sites, students
on campuses, sales personnel, and even families using
multiple online devices at home are the target market
for the burgeoning wireless networking industry.
for standards, protocols, chipset designs and wireless
applications are major source of revenues on the intellectual
property rights (IPR) front. The challenge is to generate
and protect IPR while also making it affordable for
use by players at various points of the wireless value
instance, in Asia, China, the world''s largest cellular
market with over 180-million wireless subscribers, has
a lot to gain by influencing existing wireless IP standards
and even creating its own ones, such as TD-SCDMA, which
is less costly than CDMA2000 and WCDMA systems.
Cross-fertilisation between wireless and other media
like television and the Internet is providing new sources
of data traffic and evolving newer and more lucrative
show Who Wants to be a Millionaire drew over
a million SMS messages from viewers in just one day
for a network operator in Europe. In some markets, MTV
lets users vote via SMS for which video they want to
watch next. At a P2P level, over 150 million SMS messages
were sent in 2002 on Father''s Day in the Philippines.
Valentine''s Day is another big draw for SMS users.
of the leading portals (like Yahoo in Singapore and
India) have launched SMS services for instant messaging
via gateways on their websites, and downloadable ring
tones as well (Catcha in Malaysia). The Indian Express
newspaper even tied up with the Arab news channel Al-Jazeera
to provide users with SMS news alerts during the recent
in Australia has effectively used permission-based SMS
marketing to promote incremental sales during lean periods.
Cleo magazine in Singapore also offers SMS ads
for members who sign up for the Cleo Club service operated
by N2N Consulting.
Mobile operators are seeking to increase ARPU (average
revenue per user) by promoting P2P traffic (which accounts
for an estimated 90 per cent of today''s SMS usage) as
well as premium SMS offerings (such as group chat, buddy
lists, permission marketing, machine-to-machine communication).
plans can be per message, by data volume, by subscription,
or some combination of the above. Prepaid plans are
becoming popular among budget-conscious parents who
want to control their children''s usage of mobile phones,
travelling businessmen, and providers of premium services.
numerous questions still haunt mobile operators. During
hard economic times, will users cut back on SMS usage
or cut back on movies and other recreational
spending? What is the optimal pricing ratio for SMS
in comparison with voice tariffs? How can the SMS user
base and SMS traffic be boosted while also increasing
ARPU? How should the transition be managed between SMS
and MMS, between GSM and 2.5G or 3G? What is the best
revenue-sharing model between content providers and
Wireless media have significantly transformed organisational
communications and business workflow, ranging from calendering
and alerts to customer relationship management and logistics
coordination. At the multi-enterprise collaborative
supply chain level, mobile applications can improve
speed, cost and accuracy considerations in procurement,
supply-chain execution (fulfilment) and measurement
(asset visibility), and service management (field-force
PCs and workstations have come under some criticism
for ''tethering'' knowledge workers to their desks, wireless
technologies may be the perfect answer to ''mobilising''
the workforce by letting them capture and harness key
information and knowledge attributes wherever they are,
whenever they want, and however they want.
focused on knowledge mobilisation via handheld devices
and wireless networks ranging from Pocket PCs
and cell phones to WLANs and RFID tags can take
knowledge management to an entirely new plane, putting
road warriors and field workers in the centre of the
information and communications world via mobile portals
and on-demand expert services.
Beneath the hype and hope of mass consumer market adoption
and enterprise uptake of wireless technologies, major
tectonic shifts are taking place on another front: IPR,
or the creation of technologies, content and applications
that can be licensed for lucrative royalties at various
points of the wireless ecosystem.
operators, chipset manufacturers, application developers,
content aggregators and the entertainment industry are
now in bed together trying to figure out how to ensure
that licensing of mobile content can build healthy revenue
publishers, according to industry estimates, received
over $71 million by supplying handset ring-tones last
year. The challenge for the content industry is to exploit
such new markets, while also safeguarding IPR and avoiding
rapid proliferation of multiple wireless technologies
along with the realities of scarce spectrum can lead
to numerous challenges for regulators, ranging from
license allocation to the setting of tariffs.
issues raised will need to be systematically addressed
in the next few years, and perhaps even proactively,
to pre-empt what has happened in the broadcast business,
where legislation is attempted to be back-ended into
a dynamic technology-centric business, albeit with disastrous
need of the hour in India is a comprehensive convergence
policy and a law knitting together communications, broadcast
media and content like in the US.