700 million Telecom Subscribers and counting…


So read two days back  we have touched 700 million subscribers for telecom services. Strangely enough, one didn’t see any excitement similar to what was witnessed when the numbers were rocketing from 300 to 400 to 500 million.

I think the pressure has started telling on the Telecom Operators. To service such huge numbers, they need to invest in support infrastructure and ARPUS being what they are per subscriber… they would claim that they are not making enough money to invest. It is a warped logic though. After all. strengthening the infrastructure can get them ready for more subscribers and with close to 90% market supposedly being pre paid, it is completely a volume game. And whatever theory I read back in my college days, in a volume game… number of units sold matter because the price is low. Anyways, this post is not about me trying to analyse and give solutions to experts on how to manage their business. I am curious about these numbers!

700 million subscribers and from what I read in the article… we have no clue about them! There was someone who was quoted as saying that the actual user numbers would  probably be 40 to 50% less than 700 million because there are mulitple SIM card holders. PROBABLY?? We don’t know how many users have mulitple SIM cards??

From the time the TRAI or Government’s security regulation has happened, I am sure there is data available about users. Even if the Government cannot share the data with operators, surely it can be given to NCAER or another research body to do cross tabs and arrive at a number. Track incidence of dual or more than two SIMs per person and possible segregate areas where the number of single SIM users is higher. As usual, there is data but nobody is probably interested in analysing. And if that data can be tracked, it would probably make the term ARPU stand for what it really means – Average Revenue Per User.  The data can be cross tabbed to segregate revenue for multiple SIM care users and singe SIM card users.The data can also let us know how much a user actually spends across multiple SIM cards and the consolidated amount would be revenue for that user.

Actually if this available data can be tracked and mined, the possibilities are immense for Telecom Operators.

E.g. here is one cut of the data and it comes from my belief that a post paid user is probably giving a higher revenue as compared to pre paid.

If there is a steady increase of usage and recharging for a particular consumer… can he be converted to post paid? After all a post paid consumer than becomes a steady and fixed return instead of fluctuating recharge by pre paid. And earlier there used to be an argument about cost of servicing a post paid user is very high. But in this day and age of e commerce, these costs can be brought down so I don’t  buy that argument anymore.

And while the threat of MNP looms on the horizon, I do not think it is going to impact much… when it comes to service and connectivity, one operator is as bad or good as the other operator (after all they nowadays share the same infrastructure)

Also a post paid subscriber can be offered lot more value added services than a pre paid and it would hold true when 3G starts.

The second way of cutting the data would be – Like MHI (Monthly Household Income), can the data throw up numbers to give a handle on MHMR (Monthly Household Mobile Revenue)? If this can be done, there can either be 1. One operator giving plans that take the entire family into account or 2. This would be far fetched but a collaborative effort by the operators to give value added services to the family (when there is an incidence of more than one operator in the family.

Also more telecom operators today are interacting with a household in multiple ways – mobile telephony, broadband, digital TV or IPTV… Can a combined value added solution be offered? Me for instance – I have Airtel Digital TV, Airtel mobile connection and Airtel landline and broadband. Reward loyalty to a brand…

These are just my basic thoughts from my limited understanding of the telecom market. I am sure if one were to analyse the wealth of data that is now available because of Government regulation.. the possibilities are immense.

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