MTNL  3G

MTNL 3G

Update: MTNL will be commercially rolling out Jadoo on June 1. After poor response in Delhi to 3G, it has apparently reduced its tariffs for Mumbai. (via Techtree). It is also offering a trial pack for Rs 99 that will last for 15 days and has a limit of 50 Mb, our reader tushar informs. The 3G SIM card costs Rs 300. We have tried to obtain the information but the websites of MTNL and MTNL Mumbai are both unintelligible.


After typical delays, the public sector telecom operator MTNL has finally launched Jadoo in Mumbai today, Techtree reports. This is the second city where the company has launched 3G services, after rolling out services in Delhi in February.

We had reviewed the 3G services in December, and questioned the rationale behind the inordinately high pricing. BSNL is also rolling out its 3G network in the country – it has covered Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Kolkata and has announced that over 700 cities/ towns will have 3G by July, according to ToI. Despite their aggressive plans and first mover advantage, the two telcos may not see wide adoption unless it can offer something unique – a killer app.

What Is The Killer App?

Video has been called the killer application on 3G – in the form of video streaming or mobile TV or video calls – but the mobile screen isn’t really condusive to viewing over long lengths of, and neither is the TV content being streamed optimised for the mobile screen: how visible will a Cricket ball be when camera is shooting the video for the TV? Mobile TV is already being offered by Idea Cellular and Tata Indicom on GPRS and Edge (2.5G), who are also proffering other data intensive applications such as Quickfinder GPS and regional entertainment WAP sites on their existing networks. Content owners are also being technology neutral – UTV @ Play and several news channels are already available today as Mobile TV.

When it comes to music – full track downloads could require higher bandwidths, so 3G might find favour amongst music fans. If you want to listen to a song, you would like it to download immediately and not want to wait. So music services, radio and music-focused handsets could help the telcos attract users.

Mobile versus Online gaming – Someone at a conference recently told me, “The platform does not matter as long as the game is good,” and he gave me the example of FreeCell or Hearts or any of the card games that we receive preloaded on our desktops and laptops with Microsoft Windows. This analogy works on the telecom platform perspective too – does it matter if we use 3G or 2G, when the most popular mobile game still remains probably a Snakes or Bricks or other casual games created for mobiles that are based on cricket or politics? Even with higher data speeds that let you download more games faster or play a data-heavy massively-multiplayer-online-game like World of Warcraft, the online gaming industry is still nascent.

3G: A Revolution?

Currently neither public sector telco retains the might it had for decades – BSNL is behind three private players – Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance – and is facing competition from Idea Cellular for market share while MTNL lags far behind other private telcos with a meagre 1.45% market share. (See March telecom stats) So whom are the state run telcos targeting to capture as 3G subscribers? Are they betting on new mobile users or are they expecting to spark off churn in other telcos?

In both cases, the telcos may need to devise comprehensive strategies and survey the market. If they are targeting new users, then the price point set by MTNL is too high to attract the first time cell phone user. At most, the user may buy the handset and never use data applications. If the telcos are looking to draw users from other operators, then they must have atleast one killer app that will tip the scales. Even so, they can not expect many of this set (those who already own a mobile) to make a move until mobile number portability arrives, which is next year. Will the magic of 3G hold on till then? Will it be a revolution it set out to be or will it fall flat?

In the end, if it comes down to the speed factor and no killer application, will the average Indian choose to exchange his handset for a 3G one, accept higher bills in exchange for faster Internet browsing speeds on his mobile? We believe that most would rather wait for competition to be allowed which will reduce prices, making this not a revolution – just a wait.

Related

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3G In India: MTNL Inks Mobile TV Deal With Aksh Optifibre; What About Apalya?