Last decade was for voice and the current decade will be for data VAS. In an interaction with TelecomTiger, GD Singh, Director, DigiVive, speaks about MVAS growth, challenges and company’s future plans
Q. Do you think that VAS would emerge bigger than voice and messaging in terms of revenue in near future?
A. In the near future voice will still continue to contribute major part of the revenue. But, eventually in the due course of time this will happen and this would be close to the end of this decade. VAS certainly plays a vital role and telecom operators believe that the last decade was for voice and the current decade will be for data VAS.
Advent of smartphones and launch of 3G and 4G airwaves has brought about a new pattern in customer consumption. People are no more using their mobile phones as phones but the real meaning of handset is coming out. We are witnessing growth in demand for internet browsing and mobile applications. Proliferation of devices with different features, friendly user interface, bigger screen size promise the masses to come embedded with loads of applications and other unique services/features and is yet another factor that is fuelling growth of MVAS industry.
Q. According to latest figures released by Trai, the mobile subscribers’ base in India has been declining for the last couple of months. Does this bother you?
A. Decline in telecom subscriber base doesn’t really bother us as what really matters is subscribers with GPRS connection. In last one year we have garnered five million subscribers and there is still huge untapped market left for us. The Mobile VAS is poised at the edge of a revolution; successful play in the future will depend entirely on pushing the boundaries of innovation keeping the needs of the consumer in mind.
Q. With urban subscriber base more or less reaching the limit, the rural mobile subscriber numbers are still showing decent pace of growth. Do you think there is need to understand VAS related needs of these people to improve ARPU?
A. Our nexGTv service is purely an entertainment driven VAS and broadly caters to Tier1, Tier2 and Tier3 cities. There is definitely huge potential for VAS in the rural market but services which are more informative in nature are the real bet for this type of audience. Therefore, there is a need to understand the needs of VAS related to these people in order to improve ARPU for the telecom operators.
DigiVive being a data VAS company plans to cater to the needs of this market through services like health and utility. We plan to enter the utility and health domain in the near future and thus tap the rural market with the appropriate and desired service.
Q. Currently companies working in VAS segment are facing challenges like high cost of VAS, limited availability of content in local language(s) and non-availability of enough high-end mobile phones. Will these challenges hamper the growth of VAS market in India?
A. VAS industry can be categorized into Current M-VAS and Emerging M-VAS. Current M-VAS includes SMS, MMS, etc. and requires less data consumption whereas Emerging M-VAS includes mobile apps and games that are supported by enhanced technical back-up and requires high data usage.
DigiVive’s mobile TV service- nexGTv belongs to Emerging M-VAS category and in order to deal with these challenges we have undertaken few steps from our end. As per our business model nexGTv is available for free across platforms, except on Apples’ App Store where there is one time download charge of $1.99. We also have tie-ups with operators directly and offer nexGTv as a monthly package for minimal amount where one can enjoy unlimited and uninterrupted TV viewing for an entire month. So, this helps us not bothering nexGTv users with cost issues. nexGTv as an entertainment platform offers over 100 live channels in multiple languages that include Hindi, English, Tamil, Telegu, Marathi and other languages that are spoken at large in our country. Also, in order to play nexGTv it is not necessary for users to carry a high-end mobile. In fact, the basic requirement is a mobile phone with internet connection and a native video player.
Speaking about mobile market in India, there are exhaustive numbers of low cost or economical smartphones that come embedded with unique features. These features enable mobile users to download and try as many mobile applications as possible. We constantly work on our technical back-end services to provide the best user-experience to all consumers that access nexGTv irrespective of mobile type, screen and network.
Q. Talking about TRAI proposals, does it make sense to govern a nascent and evolving sector like VAS?