Internet.org cmn

Video represents 36% of telecom operator Reliance Communications‘ data traffic, chief executive officer Vinod Sawhny revealed during an analyst call. Sawhny also predicts that video will account for more than 66% of the telco’s data traffic and has launched a new platform called Reliance Pokorn.

“Reliance Communications is positioning itself as a service provider of choice for mobile video content users with its video specific platform “Reliance Popkorn” being executed in content partnerships with BigFlix and Eros. RCOM premiered the movie “Holiday” on GSM Mobile which saw superb consumer uptake of close to 85K in a matter of just 15 days,” Sawhny said in the call.

It looks like video is going to be the growth driver for 4G adoption in India as rival Airtel revealed during their analyst call that video represents 40% of the traffic on the network. Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal added that 4G is essential for video and heavy downloading. “(If) you are doing on WhatsApp or Facebook or you are searching stuff on Google these are applications that you really do not need 4G for, 3G works as well. If we are doing heavy downloads, if you are watching movies and things like that then of course 4G is really essential,” he said.

On Internet.org

During the analyst call, Gurdeep Singh, CEO of consumer business, said that the basic objective of their tie-up with Facebook’s internet.org was to bring WhatsApp users to the Internet. “I’m sure you will be shocked to know this that, there is a huge gap between WhatsApp users and actual internet users. So our objective was to bring a bouquet of sites to them, so that they can begin to experience it without paying any data charge,” Singh said.

We’d like to point out that WhatsApp does not function without mobile or broadband internet, meaning that WhatsApp users are actually Internet users. Please note that Internet.org violates Net Neutrality, and Facebook has been running campaigns that suggests to users that free Internet.org means free Internet, which isn’t the case.

In November last year, WhatsApp claimed to have reached 70 million monthly active users (MAUs) in India. This was up from 65 million Indian MAUs in August last year.

On MTS Merger

Reliance Communications also said that the company is in advanced stages of its due diligence to take over MTS. Reliance said that the merger was done through a stock swap deal which means that they will not be taking on any of MTS’ liabilities. “It’s a business merger, of the telecom business, of Sistema Shyam in India. We do not take on any liabilities whatsoever, but we take on the assets, we take the revenue and the customers and we also take the spectrum with us, which has got a residual life of little over 18 years, and it’s a liberalized spectrum,” Singh added.

We’d again like to point out that MTS has taken a pro Net Neutrality stance and has even introduced anti-zero rating data plans for its customers. MTS has also rolled out a training and awareness program on net neutrality which involves 40,000 of their retailers in all nine telecom circles where it operates. The programme is designed in six local languages i.e. Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Gujarati, Bangla and Tamil and the training program aims to explain the significance of Net Neutrality and MTS’ commitment to it. It should be interesting to see how this point will play out in the merger.

Download: Transcript call