Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited (SSTL), which operates in India under MTS, is looking to pivot its focus from being primarily a dongle driven data company to a WiFi solutions provider with its launch of its Homespot Instant WiFi solution.
The solution comes with MTS’ MBlaze Ultra dongle which works with a plug and play mechanism and can provide high speed broadband access to five users simultaneously including smartphone users. Prepaid users need to pay Rs. 1299 to get the device with 10 GB bundled data usage while postpaid users need to pay Rs. 999. MTS says that the service can provide speeds up to 9.8 mbps and runs on the CDMA, EVDO revision, phase 2 network. Here’s the tariff plans MTS offers for customers:
Net Neutrality violation?
Note one of MTS’ prepaid tariff plans offers Viber and WhatsApp free as part of its service. By giving free access to these services and keeping others paid, MTS essentially ensures that other services’ use will be stunted. If Viber is free, what will happen to users who wish to use Skype for calling instead? The Indian consumer is cost-conscious, and they’re likely to lean towards what is cheaper and MTS is betting its business on violating net neutrality.
We stress again on the three net neutrality principles.
Rule 1: All sites must be equally accessible: ISPs and telecom operators shouldn’t block certain sites or apps just because they don’t pay them. No gateways should be created, in order to give preferential discovery to one site over another.
Rule 2: All sites must be accessible at the same speed (at an ISP/telco level): This means no speeding up of certain sites because of business deals. More importantly, it means no slowing down (throttling) of some sites.
Rule 3: The cost of access must be the same for all sites (per Kb/Mb or as per data plan): This means no “Zero Rating”. In countries like India, Net Neutrality is more about cost of access than speed of access: all lanes are slow.
Who it is targeting?
MTS says that the product is being targeted at people in the age group of 16-35 years with small families with higher focus on tier 2 and tier 3 cities. The product is designed for families who consume internet on multiple devices including smartphones with different internet connections when at home.
MTS had mentioned that it plans plans to increase the contribution of its non-voice revenues (includes data & VAS) to 50% from the current 43% in India. The data card base of Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL), grew to 1.5 million subscribers for the quarter ended September 30, 2014, up 6.3% from 1.4 million subscribers in the previous quarter. The non-voice revenues that includes data and VAS revenues grew by 14% to Rs 147.5 crore for the quarter, from Rs 129.1 crore in the previous quarter.
Other developments at MTS
– Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL) has partnered with the Indian Railways to set up Wi-Fi hotspots at Agra, Ahmedabad & Varanasi railway stations by the first quarter of 2015.
– In August last year, MTS India had partnered with an independent short films aggregator Shotz7 to launch an online movie streaming service ‘MTS Movies’.
– MTS also launched (pdf) a portable MiFi router called ‘MTS MBlaze Power Wi-Fi’ that comes bundled with a 5200 mAh power bank. The company claimed that this portable router can provide “Hi-Speed data connectivity” to up to six devices including smartphones, tablets, laptops, Smart TVs and Gaming Consoles that are on MTS’ 3GPlus network.
– MTS India had also launched a PC-based online multiplayer video gaming platform called GameGod, with Counter Strike Global Offensive (CS:GO) and DOTA 2 as the first two games on offer. The telco had also stated plans of adding five more gaming titles to this platform over the next six months.