At the 3G India Forum yesterday, Rajat Mukarji, Head of Corporate Affairs for Idea Cellular gave the mobile operators perspective on adjusting as an organization, to a 3G environment. Some inputs from his presentation:
Video Coverage: During the Q&A, Mukarji was asked about whether coverage will be seamless when one travels from Delhi to Jaipur (i.e. from one state to another). His response: When moving from one state to another, you will be moving out from one network, into another network, and you will have a call drop. We have no control of that – that’s the way our circles are structured.
In todays 2.75G environment, you can get a mobile TV experience with appropriate buffering, but at a different price point. If the demand is such, it will be buffered all the way down to Jaipur. All we have set up is a voice network – it is seamless, and the same across the board, with the single objective of voice calls. In case of 3G, I will have to tailor the network according to the new demands, and the price points will reflect that. Ian Locke, VP for Envivo added that there is technology which allows for a seamless switch will switch seamlessly between low, medium, and high resolutions streams, depending on the bandwith avalable. If users have to choose between between stopping the stream altogether, or it being live and with switches in quality, they tend to choose the latter.
Inputs from Mukarji on what operators need to figure out:
Mass Marketing To Niche Marketing: When Mobile services were launched in India, they began as direct marketing services, and gradually evolved into mass marketing companies. With 3G, we’ll have to start over again – and go back to niche marketing. That will be a challenge. We’ll have to target segments – the youth or early adopters, and the non-youth (not in terms of age, but usage); corporates will be new users.
Rollout Issues: We’ll have to look at new market locations. The top 40 cities come to mind in the first phase. You’ll need to identify where 3G will be required – there will be segmenting and geographic divisioning. This is not true of voice, because that is available across the board.
Services: there will be audio streaming, MMS, WAP, Interent access, Games…MMS is picking up again. How is an operator going to handle this? Will the 3G coverage be the same as 2G coverage. Is carpet coverage going to be required? What is the kind of HSDPA coverage going to be deployed? What will be your network architecture, transmission architecture – these are all unanswered questions, and there’s a huge amount of learning, and a phenomenal amount of un-learning required.
(p.s.: We’re awaiting presentations from e18, and will upload them when we have them)
Handsets: What will be the terminal strategy? Will be bundle the handsets? India went away from operator handset bundling. Will there be a handset subsidy? In India, the handset subsidy was hit by the grey market, and was shelved. What will be your branding strategy – will 3G be a brand or a sub brand? Will you use the same website, or have a different portal for 3G? What will be your capex model? There are complexities, but there is a way out of that mess.
Rural Coverage: The direction on 3G for rural areas is the ability to provide non-voice services. There appears to be sufficient spectrum there. The objective was for using a fatter pipe, things like telebanking, tele-education, which might work better in 3G. I don’t think it was with the objective of fundamental coverage. 2G is more efficient for voice, 3G for non-voice.