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Updated: Tata DOCOMO Launches Twittcom: VAS Recharge Via Twitter; Privacy Concerns

Updated below

Tata DOCOMO, the GSM mobile service from Tata Teleservices Limited, has introduced a Twitter application called Twittcom, for its GSM Pre -paid customers which allows them to recharge and activate Special Tariff Value recharge (STV), Value added service (VAS) through Twitter, the popular micro-blogging social network. However, the service is in its initial stage and only a limited number of STVs and VAS products can be activated via Twitter.

How It Works

For registering with the service, subscribers have to follow a simple process: go to the twitter handle of the company @tatadocomo, type in #reg and they will receive a pin code for verification through SMS. Once the verification code is received, customers need to go to the twitter handle again, key in #code and they will get a retweet confirming registration. For activating value added services the process is simple, a customer just needs to go to the handle (@tatadocomo) and key in #act# . Customers will then get a Tweet from @tatadocomo confirming the activation of the service.  The amount for the service activated will be deducted from their current balance.

Telcos  & Social Networks

Telecom operators have previously tied up with social networking sites to increase usage, and encourage users to buy data connections. Operators like Reliance, Bharti Airtel, Tata DOCOMO, and Videocon have worked with Twitter to provide features like Twitter status update via SMS and receive updates from a particular Twitter account via SMS. However, this is the first time any telecom operator in India has taken advantage of a social networking site to offer VAS to their customers.

Recently, TTML reported VAS and Data Revenues of 33%  of total wireless revenues for the quarter ended March 30th 2012 (Q4-FY12). VAS revenues are significantly higher for TTML than any other telecom operators in India. Tata Teleservices’ VAS and Data Revenues segment include earnings from its EVDO based (USB data card) connectivity business (Tata Photon).

Other initiatives by Tata DOCOMO

Tata DOCOMO along with Snapdeal, recently announced a limited period partnership to launch Deal Zone, that offers Tata DOCOMO GSM subscribers to sign up for SMS alerts for deals on on products and services such as  restaurants, spas, electronic goods, fashion accessories, personal care products. Hungama Digital Media Entertainment tied up with the mobile social and video application provider, Vringo and Tata Docomo to launch a video ringtone service for Tata Docomo GSM subscribers in India at tatadocomo.vringo.com. Tata Docomo  also announced the launch of 30 premium games for its subscription based gaming service, ‘Let’s Play’.

Update: Privacy Concerns

Though the service is an interesting integration of social media and technology, it comes with its own set of privacy concerns. As Twitter is an open social networking site anyone — registered or unregistered users — can view tweets sent out by a public profile. If we search for “@tatadocomo #reg” — the code to register for Twittcom service on twitter, we can access private mobile numbers of people registering for the service.

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