Tech Revolution

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

The year 2009 can be termed as the year of innovation in

MVAS globally, VAS players from across the world developed ground-breaking

solutions. Also, it saw the growing penetration of mobile commerce which would

go a long way in enabling financial inclusion. There have been 3G VAS product

innovations offered by VAS players, despite the fact that 3G is yet to be

launched in India.


Amid fierce competition with per-second tariff pulse,

which is affecting their topline, mobile operators are now focusing on value

added services, such as caller tunes, ringtones, and others to make up for the

depleting revenues.

Mobile VAS solutions have evolved from a mere

communications service to a plethora of information and varied customized

solutions to serve enterprise requirements. In the changing market scenario,

mobile solutions will fuel the market for a large chunk of revenues for service

providers in the near future.

Expert Panel

Manoranjan Mohapatra, CEO, Comviva

Ritesh Andley, director, product marketing, Utiba Mobility

Dr Arunan, director, Bay Talkitec

Yogesh S Bijlani, country head, India

Inderpal Singh Mumick, founder, chairman & CEO, Kirusa Software

Neha Tyagi, promotion manager, Handygo

Pushpendra Mankad, senior VP, Comverse

B Surya Shive Shanker, director, corporate strategy and operation,
Apalya Technologies

Tim Daniels, product marketing manager, Telesoft Technologies

Debasis Chatterji, CEO, NetXcell

Jagdish Mitra, CEO, CanvasM

Amit Dey, CEO, Buongiorno

Sunny Rao, MD, India & South East Asia, Nuance


Today, mobile VAS in India is focused around a gamut of

services around the technology platforms of commerce and utility. The future

implementation will encompass several new and exciting areas in utility

solutions such as mobile Internet, location based services, mobile

advertisement, and regional content based services.

Tech Making a Buzz

The technologies that have dominated MVAS in 2009 are mainly user interfaces

(UIs) and GPRS, which is 2.5 technology. UIs is the new favorite among Indian

users which is reflected in the rapid adoption of smartphones. Another

innovative technology in demand is electronic top-up solution to enable

distribution of their services which are electronic in nature.

The market continued to be dominated by entertainment

services like CRBT and SMS subscription services being the large revenue

generator for operators. The key trend that was observed across operators was

the huge upsurge in mobile data. Even on 2.5G networks, mobile Internet was the

mega trend of 2009. Operators saw a huge incremental growth of data traffic



Mobile advertising is expected to grow consistently to reach a valuation of

$12.8 bn by 2011. Taking on this opportunity, technologies like video SMS could

be of much help to the mobile advertising industry.

With 3G services ironing its way in, the VAS industry is

expected to increase its share manifold, with some industry estimates pegging

the figure at Rs 200 bn by 2015. The prime movers in the VAS industry will be

Bollywood and cricket. The latest trends in the mobile gaming space are 3D

mobile games and multi-player games on large screen mobiles with improved GPRS

networks. Among users with high-end mobile phones, there will be experimentation

with applications like mobile broadcast/TV, on-demand video, video/audio

streaming, etc, will gain traction.

As the penetration of MVAS grows in rural India, the

necessity and importance of interactive voice response system will increase.

Framers in the country with the latest market trends, weather forecasts, and

crop information via SMS based service in the local language.


Also with regulations now becoming more favorable for

operators to have customers' wallets being opened for limited functionality, and

also the retailer's wallet being used for distributing services outside the

telecom domain, the industry will see these kind of services picking up.

Mobile TV and mobile gaming are other technologies that

would lead the Indian market. The year 2010 will also witness large scale

adoption of mobile community services and the emergence of location based

services across the operators landscape in India.

After testing the success of vernacular unstructured

supplementary services data (USSD) portals, telenity is ready to introduce a

large portfolio of location based services. On the other hand, after launching

electronic top-ups service with Airtel, BSNL, and MTS, Utiba is in discussion

with some more players to launch mobile commerce solution.


Comviva is coming up with its virtual SIM technology for

rural and semi-urban areas. This solution enables access to mobile services for

a large group of people, currently unable to afford mobile handsets. By using

virtual SIM-without owning a handset or a SIM-the under-served segment can

become a part of the global mobile community.

Enterprise Concerns

  • Availability of DND lists
  • Management of DND lists is invariably important for mobile advertising
  • Availability of common infrastructure to send and receive messages

    across all operators
  • The ability to be able to send voice content to subscribers across all

  • Users within enterprise organization are seeking more openness and

    tailoring of information
  • Enterprises have growing concerns of new services being launched for

    the market which are underdeveloped
  • New services should come with the faster time to market and

    development of new technologies with a better turnaround time.

Kirusa is very hopeful about its two new technologies-LoudMouth,

which is a broadcasting application used by enterprises customers to advertise

their products; and Call-N-Tweet service for Twitter users to update their

status by voice tweets.


After touching half a billion subscriber base for its offering, Behtar

Zindagi, Handygo is focusing on enhancing this service with a 360° solution

based on rural requirements. Also, the company is planning to launch location

based services soon.

Bay Talkitec is introducing next generation SDP platform which is both 2.5G

and 3G complaint and has a number of applications relevant for rural India such

as mobile education, weather forecast for farmers, mobile yellow pages, etc.

Comverse is also ready to launch a number of services like ONE Billing and

Active Customer Management, HUB value added services, and Netcentrix IP

communications. Few other technologies in the pipeline are visual voice mails

and RBT.


A Tough Task

The biggest issue haunting the MVAS sector is the slow rollout of 3G

services. The other major issue affecting the growth of MVAS in India is the

lack of transparency in the revenue sharing agreement. The MVAS ecosystem has

accommodated various players: content developers, content aggregators,

technology enablers, short code providers, handset manufacturers, and operators.

While operators command the highest share, rest of the payers get a minor

portion. VAS players have always been getting the short-end of the stick in

revenue sharing in which they have always been vying for their due share.

Also there is a lack of transparency when it comes to making payments to VAS

providers. VAS introduction in rural India has been impending which is

considered to revolutionize the VAS industry. The challenge also lies with

providing them vernacular support of consumer choice across India. The mobility

support to consumers, which offers them the services whenever and wherever they

need them has to be strengthened with upgradation and offering new network

services. Also, the new pricing model to suit the needs of end consumers has to

be considered well in advance as they tend to prefer services which are

available for free.


Company Latest VAS Offerings
Comviva Virtual SIM technology for rural areas,

mobile gaming and advertising solutions
Telenity Location based services
Comverse ONE billing and active customer

management, HUB value added services and Netcentrix IP communications,

visual voice mails and RBT
Bay Talkitec Nex gen SDP platform
Utiba Electronic top-ups and m-commerce

Kirusa LoudMouth and

Handygo Advanced Behtar Zindagi service &

location based services

Technology understanding and acceptance is considerably low in Indian rural

areas. Multiple languages will always be a challenge to provide the services and

support. Mobile users also need to be educated and encouraged to start taking

buying/selling decisions via mobile, and to look at mobile as an alternative to

a debit/credit card.

M-commerce has not picked up very well in India so far. Different parties

involved in the entire m-commerce value chain like wireless infrastructure

providers, wireless service providers, certifying authorities,

applications/software providers, equipment manufacturers, credit card companies,

and banks as well as media houses and global brands have to coordinate and come

together to establish the industry standards for m-commerce transactions.

Other factors hampering the growth are limited awareness of services, high

cost of content, high exit barriers for MVAS consumers, limited availability of

local content, low GPRS connectivity, authentication standards, copyright

protection, low feature handsets, etc. Besides, commoditization of the existing

VAS services due to intense competition is a major roadblock.

In Vogue

Location sensing is presently accessed through GPRS, but Wi-Fi will

soon replace it. The mobile web is emerging as a low-cost way to deliver simple

mobile applications to a range of devices. Another important trend in the VAS

industry has been to offer browser based and voice based access to content and

VAS. With browser based access using USSD technology, end user dials a simple

string and then navigates his way to content and services.

Social networking on mobile is another upcoming trend in

the VAS segment. Besides, Internet developers are also seeing mobile as a

predominant avenue to reach customers.

The business trend has clearly been towards developing new

business models through adopting a managed service approach to service delivery

and management. The other trend is that operators have begun experimenting with

mobile marketing and mobile advertising.

Lack of differentiation among existing telecom players has

led to lowering of call tariffs in India. Low profit margins from existing

businesses will push more companies to look out for alternative revenue sources

in the form of VAS.

The continuous high penetration of smartphones is opening

a new opportunity for VAS services based on mobile applications.

Pricing Issues

Price has been an issue all along. With operators' ARPU decreasing,

it's getting increasingly difficult to get the fair share of the revenue on any

VAS service. As of now, there are no solutions available unless VAS itself

becomes a significant portion of the operators' revenue. The only way to get

better pricing is to offer innovative solutions so that they enable better

visibility and the value gets appreciated.

The current price war helps no one, not even consumers.

MVAS is also suffering in this scenario as most VAS prices remain the same; only

the call and SMS prices are crashing. This makes the other VAS appear more

expensive than it really is, affecting its consumption.

Enterprise Concerns

  • Availability of DND lists
  • Management of DND lists is invariably important for mobile advertising
  • Availability of common infrastructure to send and receive messages

    across all operators
  • The ability to be able to send voice content to subscribers across all

  • Users within enterprise organization are seeking more openness and

    tailoring of information
  • Enterprises have growing concerns of new services being launched for

    the market which are underdeveloped
  • New services should come with the faster time to market and

    development of new technologies with a better turnaround time.

Since majority of the consumer base is driven by the

prepaid market, they will only be able to pay and value the services which are

personalized. The services coming with a cost lose their value; therefore

differential pricing for differentiated customer base is highly important. The

cost-effective model and strategies which bring in more profitability and can be

co-related with the purchasing power of customers are the prime focus.

Innovative services and a greater focus on utility applications are what

subscribers are willing to pay for.

The Road Ahead

Despite the downturn, VAS industry has seen its growth with new

emerging opportunities of data services with high rates of adoption where

entertainment VAS has been giving impetus to the industry with growing revenues.

Leading telecom players have adopted growth techniques by

focusing on entertainment services like RBTs, voice and music portals, among

others. The other services that they plan to adopt or to focus upon are coming

from the value chain process which includes managed services like system

integration, device testing and others which are primarily from the network side

of operators.

Due to saturation in urban markets, the entire telecom

industry is moving towards rural. Similarly, VAS has always been a bundle of

innovation and attraction, and it will bring rural in its kitty too.

Arpita Prem