After a pilot in the state of Maharashtra, Thomson Reuters has expanded services to the state of Punjab. According to a company release, the service has signed up 50,000 users in Maharashtra, and they intend to expand to a third state by the end of the year. An interesting tidbit – they’re using post offices in Maharashtra to drive registrations.

Now with just 50,000 subscribers in Maharashtra, they’re falling short of the 250-300,000 subscribers that former EVP, Media (Asia) Azhar Rafee had outlined a few months ago in an interview: RML will have to add over 70,000 subscribers a month this year to achieve that goal. Perhaps Punjab, among the richest states in the country, and a largely agricultural state at that, should help them close in on that goal. Rafee had said then that Reuters also intended to make the service – covering 17 different crops – in multiple languages.

I do think that voice based, multilingual, services are a better bet than SMS – since in some states, lack of education is an issue. However, costs will be an issue, and pricing the voice services at Rs. 6 per minute will not work.

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