Mobile Value Added Services company IMI Mobile* has launched Cell Shakti, a rural voice based information service in Andhra Pradesh. Cell Shakti has been launched with Bharti Airtel – customers can call 52345006 to subscribe – and customers are provided with information on Weather, Health Care, Mandi Bhav, as well as Educational and Law and Order info. The service is priced at Re. 1** per day as subscription charges; IMI Mobile hasn’t disclosed the call charges, and has declined to share the names of its content partners, saying only that the content is from reliable sources.
Mobile companies are increasingly going rural, despite rural penetration being low at around 20-25% of the total base: I remember that on the Bharti Airtel conference call last quarter, Atul Bindal, President (Mobile Services) for Bharti Airtel had said that consumption of Value Added Services in the Rural Areas, in partnership with IFFCO and other bodies took off at a fast pace, particularly mandi rate related services.
Given that literacy rates in rural India are not likely to be nearly as high as in Urban, and due to language issues related to text based services, it’s likely that more and more services in rural India will be voice based. Several services exist
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* Disclosure: IMI Mobile is a MediaNama sponsor
** The symbol for the Indian Rupee is being finalized today).