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Interview with Deepak Gulati, Executive President, Mobility Business Division, TTSL

January 27, 2011
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In an interview with tele.net, Deepak Gulati, executive president, Mobility Business Division, Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL) talks about the synergies between TTSL and NTT DOCOMO, the launch of 3G services and mobile number portability (MNP), and the company’s future plans. Excerpts… 

TATA DOCOMO recently launched its 3G services. How has the response been so far? What are the various 3G services and plans that you are currently offering? 

TATA DOCOMO became the first private operator to launch 3G services in India across all the nine circles where it won 3G licences. The response to our 3G services has been extremely encouraging and has exceeded our expectations.

TATA DOCOMO’s 3G service enables faster and richer communication, making the mobile and internet device the gateway to a world of information and entertainment. It assists users with a host of location-based services and helps them get more out of life through a host of smart applications.

TATA DOCOMO has suitably positioned itself to leverage the first-mover advantage as we offer attractive small screen and large screen plans for customers to upgrade to 3G Life. The Small Screen Plan works best for mobile phone users who need both 3G voice and data connectivity, while the Large Screen Plan is for customers who want to use 3G services to access the internet on their laptops, PCs and tablets. We also offer unlimited 3G data plans starting at Rs 1,000.

What are the synergies between TTSL and NTT DOCOMO? How significant has NTT DOCOMO been for TTSL over the past one-and-a-half years? 

NTT DOCOMO, being the world’s leading wireless technology company, has many firsts to its credit. It has played a major role in the evolution of mobile telecommunications through the development of cutting-edge mobile technologies and services. Given these strengths, and with TTSL’s robust dual-technology networks, there is a perfect fit in the two companies teaming up in the Indian market. The partnership has given TTSL an opportunity to access NTT DOCOMO’s technological expertise and experience in rolling out new networks and managing next-generation technologies/ networks.

In addition, the partnership has led to fuller optimisation of business operations and helped the company develop new product/service offerings. With the launch of 3G services, NTT DOCOMO’s proven global leadership on this platform will see TATA DOCOMO get an edge over other operators in the Indian market.

How do you see the Indian telecom market growing in the near future? 

At more than 46 per cent (according to TRAI), the wireless teledensity in India is significantly lower than that in many other countries across the globe. The Indian telecom industry will continue to surge ahead as one of the fastest growing industries in the world. With penetration at over 100 per cent in the metros, the growth is now coming from the Tier II and Tier III cities, and also villages typically characterised by low ARPUs. While the total cost of ownership for telecom services is reducing, income levels and consumerism are increasing, thereby continuously expanding the addressable market.

With the arrival of new players, 3G and MNP, the competitive intensity of the mobile industry is only going to increase. As mobility becomes increasingly pervasive, consumers will look at services and solutions that are more engaging and relevant to their lives. Tariffs will cease to become the “table stakes” sooner rather than later. Going forward, in the cluttered telecom scenario, what will act as a differentiator will be the overall customer experience provided by the operator. With increasing competition on tariffs and dual SIM ownership by the same customer, the challenge for operators would be the share of wallet. This means a lot more innovation on stickiness through value-added and other services to become the preferred service provider leading to better share of wallet. Also, with devices becoming more affordable, customers will be tempted to do a lot more with their mobile phones, which will bring in several new VAS opportunities.

MNP has finally been launched. What does it means for the Indian telecom market and what opportunities will it bring for TTSL? 

The launch of MNP represents a watershed moment for the Indian telecom market. With MNP, consumers can change operators whenever their operator lets them down in terms of the service provided. Various surveys have revealed that a majority of the users – over 75 per cent – are dissatisfied with their existing service provider, and the key reason they continued with their operator was the absence of number portability. With MNP, operators will become more responsible and responsive to the needs of users. MNP will not only lead to a more competitive scenario, but will change the dynamics of the Indian telecom industry as it will widen the power of choice for customers who are unhappy with their service provider. 

We strongly believe that our superior products and services, simple tariffs, strong customer care services, cutting-edge technology and robust network will not only let us emerge as one of the largest gainers of MNP but will also let us retain more than 85 million satisfied customers.

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