Update: A report by Business Standard indicates that after the completion of 300 minutes of free usage, users can avail a top up package of Rs 7, which will offer an additional 70 minutes free of listening time. It also states that a separate data-based streaming service is expected to be launched soon and will be priced at Rs 5 per day. We tried using the service and found that a few channels including Falak, Surabhi and Thenisai were not working. We feel that Vodafone should have taken care of these glitches, since it’s not a trial and subscribers are being charged for the service.
Previously (March 16): Timbre Media, the company which had tied-up with Saregama India Ltd to revive the WorldSpace brand in the country in July last year, seems to have silently launched its services on Vodafone network under the moniker Vodafone WorldSpace Radio, reports TechCircle.
Radio Stations: As anticipated earlier, the service has relaunched the same set of 10 music channels dedicated to different genres of Indian music including the Bollywood channel Farishta, Ghazal channel Falak, Bengali channel Sonar, Gujarati channel Umang, Marathi channel Surabhi, Punjabi channel Tunak, Kannada channel Sparsha, Tamil channel Thenisai, Telugu channel Spandana and the Malayalam channel Madhuri. While Timbre Media will be handling music programming of these radio stations, Saregama will acts as the content provider and distributor for them.
Registration: Vodafone subscribers can activate the service by dialing 58000 or by sending a text message ACT Wradio to 111 or through USSD method by dialing *514*580# on their phones. The service will be available to all Vodafone subscribers across the country with an exception of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kolkatta and Himachal Pradesh and is priced at Rs 30 per month with 300 minutes of free usage, however it is unclear what the charges will be after the free usage. It’s also not clear whether the radio service will only be an IVR (dial-in and listen) service or will also be offered via streaming over data.
Other Operators? While the service is currently exclusive to Vodafone but Timbre Media is reportedly in negotiations with other operators as well. The company had previously told that it intends to distribute its services across Internet, mobile and DTH platforms.
A similar service is offered by Venturenet Partners which had raised an undisclosed amount in a Series-A funding round from Ojas Ventures Partners last month. The company currently offers in-store digital radio for businesses under the Spot Radio brand and it had announced its intentions to launch a consumer Internet radio services under the Radiowalla brand as well as expand its services and features of its current in-store radio service.
Launching as a mobile radio service, WorldSpace will also compete with other similar dial-in services from FM stations and VAS providers like Hungama who offer repurposed radio feeds. Earlier, Hungama Mobile had partnered with Vh1 to offer a dial-in music service called Vh1 Radio Gaga, on Airtel’s mobile network. It had also tied up with Uninor and Red FM to offer an ad-free radio feeds of Red FM’s 8 radio stations including feeds from Delhi, Pune, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Jamshedpur, Chennai (Suryan FM) and Bangalore. Tata Docomo had partnered with Big FM to offer Mobile Radio service to its subscribers and Mirchi Mobile, the mobile version of FM radio station Radio Mirchi is available on Reliance, BSNL and Airtel’s fixed lines.