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RCOM extends its EMI-like device tie-ups to Lumia & HTC Devices; Plans for more

Our telecom operator earnings coverage is brought to you by OnMobile Global, India’s leading Mobile Value Added Services [VAS] company


Reliance Communications plans to replicate the data bundled device tie-up it had inked with Apple in the previous quarter, with more smartphone brands across various pricing points, the company CEO (Wireless) Gurdeep Singh disclosed during its earnings conference call for the quarter ended December 31, 2013 (Q3-FY14).

In November 2013, RCOM had launched (pdf) EMI-like 2 year contract plans for Apple’s iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S called ‘Zero Plan offers’, wherein users got the handset, unlimited local and STD calls, 3,000 SMS per month, national roaming and unlimited 3G data for a monthly payment of Rs 2,599 (iPhone 5c) or Rs 2,999 (iPhone 5S) for 24 months.


However, a month later, RCOM increased the contract prices of iPhone 5C and 5S to Rs 2,999 and Rs 3,599 per month and introduced a similar plan for the two-gen old iPhone 4S at Rs 2,499 per month.

Earlier this week, RCOM also introduced a similar plan for select Nokia Lumia smartphones, through which it is offering Nokia Lumia 1320 for Rs 2,199 per month and Nokia Lumia 1520 at Rs 3,349 per month. The company’s website also suggests that it is offering similar plans for GSM + CDMA based HTC devices like HTC Desire 700 (Rs 2,179 per month), HTC One DS (Rs 2,899 per month), HTC Desire 600c (Rs 2,099 per month) and HTC Desire XC (Rs 1,599 per month) among others.

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Singh says the iPhone offer has led to a significant amount of high ARPU customers porting into the network and claimed to be MNP positive in all 13 3G circles, following the launch of this offer. However, he didn’t disclose any specific numbers on this. “We believe that Zero Plan can be a new category like Postpaid and Prepaid Plans, which will drive the revenue growth in future.” Singh adds.

Tie-ups with Social Networking Sites

In addition to this, RCOM claims its exclusive tie-ups with Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp has helped the adoption of its data services and this is expected to grow as they announce more device tie-ups. Remember that WhatsApp had inked its second telco deal with Tata Docomo in December 2013 while the RCOM deal was done in October 2012, indicating that RCOM had an exclusive deal with WhatsApp for more than a year.

As for Twitter, RCOM had claimed to be the first telco in the country to partner with Twitter in the new ‘Twitter Access’ program last April, although we are not quite sure what was exclusive about the deal, except for the fact that Twitter had apparently modified its official mobile apps to alert subscribers of the pack that the service was free of cost.

Remember that Twitter already a deal with Airtel in December 2011 and subsequently, Twitter had also inked a deal with Vodafone India, three months after the RCOM deal. (Also readVodafone’s Free Twitter Partnership In India Blows Up In Its Face). Similarly, Facebook also had a similar deal with Airtel back in July 2010 and again in January 2014.

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