IMI Mobile* CEO Vishwanath Alluri is of the view, that to drive inclusive growth, services that address the common man must be rolled out effectively, at a faster pace. Speaking at the ASSOCHAM Global Telecom Summit yesterday, Alluri said that bureaucratic hurdles that come into the way of service providers must be eliminated. He gave the example of how it takes VAS providers enormous amounts of time to deploy an SMS short-code for a small service, and how the process is tedious at best in the present scenario. He expects the following changes to take place:

– Moving services to the cloud: Alluri believes that there is an immediate need for telecom operators to open up dormant network assets, moving them to the cloud for handset manufacturers, service providers, developers, advertisers and over the top (OTT) content providers like Picasa, Orkut, Google and Facebook to leverage these assets. From schools which can keep parents updated about their child, to companies targeting rural customers, more entities will be able to offer mobile based services directly to end-users, if the process becomes less tedious. (ED: this will help speed up deployment, and allow telecom operators to offer more services to scale usage)

– Access to more data: Operators store enormous amount of data, including subscriber profiles, channels, CRM data, presence data, charging, and hosting environment data, which can be utilized to offer better services. The data on the cloud should be anonymized, so there’s no way that user privacy is compromised. However, moderation might be needed on the operator site for content push.

– Open Marketplace: Operators should  open up infrastructure to service providers, and create an open marketplace in the cloud to eliminate bureaucratic hurdles in implementing valued added services.  More and more rural oriented services can be started easily, if these hurdles are eliminated.

Alluri said that presently telcos choose to be dumb pipes or bit pipes, serving the sole purpose of transmitting data via their networks. At times, OTT content providers and operators are at logger heads, since OTTs, through the use of native apps on devices reach out directly to the end-user, without the operator coming into the picture.  Moving all this data over the cloud and utilizing these assets for growth of services will turn them into smart pipes, benefiting all concerned entities.

He added, though, that the challenge for telcos will be one of differentiation, even if it makes the market more open.

Should The Regulator Get Involved?

But should the regulator get involved? MediaNama readers might remember that the TRAI was considering regulation of value added services, and recommended a common short code plan, which would take ownership of short codes out of telecom operators control, and open the space for services. That plan never went through. You might also remember our comments  on standardization of billing services for the same.

Alluri was more circumspect about regulation saying that the regulator’s job was to lay down rules and protect the customer, and nothing beyond that. “So VAS should not come under regulation,” he said.

Note: Slide, courtesy Vishwanath Alluri.

Disclosure: IMI Mobile is an advertiser with MediaNama