Bharti Airtel appears to have increased rates for Caller Ringback Tones to Rs 36, from Rs 30. while this might not appear to be much in absolute terms, at 20% higher, it is substantive increase on a percentage bases. Airtel hasn’t responded for a request for an interaction on this increase.
In terms of scale, this 20% increase in CRBT needs to also be seen in the context of the service once having (by industry estimates) over 25 million customers. However, base of CRBT customers might no longer be that large:
A yet-to-be-published research by Google Policy Fellow Amba Kak for the Centre for Internet and Society quotes Hungama Digital CEO Neeraj Roy as saying that the CRBT base has come down by around 65%, and the future is online.
A final set of guidelines from TRAI earlier this year, also mandated double confirmation for activation via the Mobile Internet, apart from Outbound Dialer (OBD), Voice Portal (IVRS), USSD, SMS and Telecalling. The notification stipulates that “The first offer of a service is on the service providers’ platform and a second confirmation from the customer is through a dedicated consent gateway which is owned by a third party and not by the service provider.” This means that when a consumer subscribes to a service, the request will first have to go to the service provider, and then to a third party for a second layer of confirmation. In addition, upon activation of VAS service, the de-activation number, the validity of the VAS service and charges for renewal should be explicitly informed.
It’s likely that the model of minimum guarantees for music for mobile will eventually die – and it should – after having contributed significantly to the push for false billing and consumer fraud that has typified the content business in the mobile industry – consumers were billed for services without their consent, and we’ve even heard of telecom operator logs having been fudged.
As per the research from Kak, in 2012, digital music revenues in India were estimated to be Rs 600 crore, around 57% of total music revenues in India, and Mobile VAS accounted for around 80% of the total digital sales.