Indiavision TV, a Malayalam news channel, has launched live news on a voice portal on Idea Cellular‘s mobile network in Kerala. It makes sense for the service to be provided on voice, rather than video at this point in time, because Idea Cellular is offering 2G data services (will support 3G once it has spectrum), and not EVDO like competitors Tata Indicom (Photon Plus), Reliance Communications (Netconnect), Virgin Mobile (VFlash) and MTS (MBlaze). Remember that Idea Cellular is one of the three telecom operators to have licensed 3G spectrum in Kerala.  Even then, the reach of voice services still supercedes that of video or even text. The service has been launched in partnership with IMI Mobile*. Note that Indiavision News also streams its channel online at

This development also brings to light an interesting issue: private FM Radio service providers are still not allowed in India to provide news, because radio is considered a mass medium, but Mobile operators can offer news services on voice? FM Radio radio service providers, in fact, can’t even offer their content beyond the circle they operate in, and Radio Mirchi had to separately replicate the radio experience when they launched services recently with Bharti Airtel and Spice Digital. So why is Radio being discriminated against? Also, I wonder why more service providers haven’t launched news on voice yet.

The voice based news service is priced at Rs. 20 per month as a subscription fee, and charges of Rs. 0.01 for every three seconds. Users can also listen live news updates by dialing 523457 and pay browsing charges of 1 paisa per 3 secs, or a pay per use charge of Rs. 3 per minute, without subscription.

According to the latest TRAI report (April 2010), Idea Cellular had 65.23 million mobile connections, of which 5,486,071 connections were in Kerala. But the Malayalam speaking population isn’t limited to Kerala alone, so why not launch this service across the country?

Disclosure: IMI Mobile is an advertiser with MediaNama