Thursday, January 31, 2013

Online shopping through mobiles rising in India: Google

According to a report by Google India it received double the number of online shopping queries from mobile phones in 2012.

Online shopping through mobile phones is growing by leaps and bounds, a new report of Google India has confirmed. According to the report, in India, 30 per cent online shopping queries last year came from mobile phones.
Interestingly, electronics with 34 per cent share emerged as the most popular product category, followed by apparel and accessories at 30 per cent last year which Google predicts will be the most popular category in 2013.
Money back guarantee, along with ability to pay on delivery (74 per cent regular consumers to choose to pay through this medium), fast delivery, discounts and access to branded products were the prime reasons behind the growth of online shopping, the report pointed out.
Online shopping through mobiles
However, many also avoided online shopping due to the inability to touch or try the goods before purchase, fear of faulty products, fear of posting personal and financial details online and the inability to bargain.
Rajan Anandan, vice president and managing director of Google India, said, "With approximately 8 million Indians shopping online in 2012, online shopping industry in India is growing rapidly and will continue to see exponential growth. By looking at the trends in 2012, we expect 2013 to be a strong growth year for players focused on fast-growing categories like apparel and accessories and niche product categories like baby products, home furnishings, health and nutrition."
Consumers were most likely to shop for tickets online and it is the biggest category in terms of driving users to online shopping. Online ticket buyers were likely to spend a higher average amount of Rs 2,347 on their first purchase, in comparison to Rs 1,626 for others. Online ticket buyers were also seen to be more comfortable with the use of debit cards (24 per cent), credit cards (19 per cent) and cash on delivery (55 per cent). For regular internet users, cash on delivery was the preferred mode of payment (74 per cent), followed by debit cards (18 per cent) and credit cards (5 per cent).
It is well known that many Indians are coming face to face with the web for the first time through mobile internet. Now with bigger better phones and tablets coming at cheaper prices, mobile internet usage is set to grow and therefore online shopping will also grow alike. The only problem right now is the lack of reliable fast and cheaper data networks in the country.

Nokia launches customised browser for Airtel users

Nokia Xpress Browser for Airtel will offer one-click access to popular content including Bharti Airtel's premium mobile internet services and content.

Nokia India has launched a customized version of the Nokia Xpress Browser for Airtel consumers on compatible Nokia mobile phones.
The customized Nokia Xpress Browser for Airtel subscribers will provide one-click access to Airtel's premium content and easy discoverability of content on-the-go. The customized browser will be rolled out over the coming week and Nokia-Airtel consumers will be automatically upgraded to the new version.
Nokia launches customised browser
Nokia and Airtel's joint move is aimed at increasing the uptake of mobile internet services amongst consumers by providing them access to faster, easier and more cost effective data solutions.
Nokia Xpress Browser is claimed to enable up to 85 per cent more efficient mobile browsing compared to conventional browsers, making it faster and cheaper for consumers to access the internet and use popular services like search, rich web apps and social networking.
The Nokia Xpress Browser optimizes web sites, enabling them to load faster on Nokia Series 40 devices, including Nokia Asha smartphones.

Aircel announces free roaming

Aircel customers will no longer need to pay for incoming charges while roaming.

Aircel has announced a new pack called 'One Nation, One Rate'. The plan offers one rate for voice, SMS and data in home circle and on roaming on Aircel network.
The 'One nation, one rate' plan offers 1 paisa per second for both STD and local calls in home circle as well as on roaming on Aircel network. Incoming calls while on roaming on Aircel network will be free.
SMS rate is Rs 1 per SMS for both STD and local. The Aircel plan has also same data rates for both home and roaming circles. In Delhi, the pack is priced at Rs 39, but its price will vary in other circles.
The move comes at a time when Government of India is planning to abolish roaming charges, but operators are not very keen to support this move. As per estimation, telecom operators earn around 10 per cent of their total revenue from roaming charges.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Airtel reduces benefits on special tariff vouchers

Airtel has denied any hike in tariff & said that it has reduced benefits on promotional tariffs & special tariff vouchers.

GSM service provider, Airtel has dismissed reports that it has increased its mobile tariffs. However, the telecom operator has acknowledged that it has reduced the benefits that it offers with special tariff vouchers.
"There is no change in the headline tariff. In most circles, we have reduced promotional benefits and free minutes on both acquisition and existing usage," Airtel said in a statement.
However, an Airtel spokesperson refused to comment on specific change in benefits saying that "the change will vary from circle to circle and from voucher to voucher and there is no average figure that we can quote".
Idea has also reportedly introduced a similar reduction in tariff vouchers and in some cases hiked base tariff of called to 1.5 paisa per second. And given the trend so far, Vodafone might also follow suit.
Recently Airtel, Idea cellular and Vodafone hiked their 2G data tariffs in a similar way by reducing the data quota in each special tariff vouchers (STV) and also increasing the price of the STVs. For instance, the telecos are now offering the 1 GB pack, which used to cost Rs 99, for Rs 125 across all their major circles. The 2 GB unlimited pack, offered by both Airtel and Idea, is now priced at Rs 199 against its earlier price of Rs 149. In April 2012, the three operators had also reduced the data cap on the Rs 99 pack from 2 GB to 1 GB in most circles.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Airtel launches solution for BYOD customers

Airtel has launched a new security solution that allows corporates to protect and secure any mobile phone to be used on their network.

Airtel has launched a new solution for corporates. Called as Airtel Dynamic Mobile Exchange (DME), the solution allows the workforce to access enterprise data from anywhere on a device of their choice, in a secure manner.
The new concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is getting popular and Airtel is trying to cash in on this new concept which basically allows corporate employees to choose their own device and yet use it for work also by utilising the corporate network.
Airtel DME allows employees to segregate official and personal data on the same device by containerising the information such as emails, data applications, documents etc.
The solution empowers IT administrators to remotely manage and control the device basis individual company policy. In case of loss of the mobile device, the corporate container can be remotely locked and data can be wiped off, thereby protecting sensitive corporate information.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Airtel offers 500 MB data free for 6 months with Karbonn smartphones

The offer is for Karbonn's A9+, A15, A21 and A30 smartphones.

Airtel has announced that it will offer 500 MB of 2G and 3G data for free each month for six months to people buying Karbonn Mobile's smartphones like A9+, A15, A21 and A30.
This Airtel data offer will be auto activated for all buyers of the select Karbonn smartphones models.
Airtel offers 500 MB data free
While Airtel has similar tie-ups with other leading smartphone brands, it mostly offers the data benefit for three months only and in that sense this offer is very attractive.
Shashin Devsare, executive director, Karbonn Mobiles said, "We at Karbonn Mobiles believe in returning the trust that our consumers have reposed in us, through gestures which endeavour to bring a smile onto the faces of our consumers. By associating with Airtel, we seek to bring faster and greater internet and data outreach to our consumers".

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mobile tariffs not high: TRAI

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has maintained the status quo leaving operators free to decide on tariffs .

Mobile tariffs in India are not going to get cheaper anytime sooner, as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has said that the tariffs that the telecom companies are offering are not objectionable and hence there is no need to change anything in that anytime soon.
Rajeev Agarwal, secretary, TRAI said, "The mobile tariffs are competitive. We could not find that tariffs have been in any objectionable territory."
Mobile tariffs not high
This surely comes in as a big respite for all the telecom service providers as they would not have to reconsider their tariffs anytime sooner as TRAI has okayed the current tariff regime leaving operators free to decide on their tariffs.
Telecom operators recently had increased their tariffs because of the losses they were facing. All in all the tariffs were increased by 20-30 per cent across all verticals by all major telecom service providers functioning across the country.
For instance, most operators have raised their postpaid and prepaid base tariffs for outbound calls to 1.2 paisa per second over the past few months from 1 paisa per second.

Airtel offering free access to Facebook

Till 15th February 2013, prepaid mobile customers on Airtel can enjoy the offer but conditions apply.

Airtel has announced that its prepaid mobile customers can enjoy free access to the mobile application of Facebook, a popular social networking service. As part of this limited period offer, prepaid Airtel mobile customers can now access the Facebook mobile application free of charge for upto 500 MB of monthly data usage till 15th February.
External link(s) will be charged as per prevailing rates that is about 10 paisa per 10 KB incase no pack is opted by the user. Beyond free usage, prevailing rates will apply.
Airtel prepaid mobile customers can use the free Facebook offer to post status, upload photos and do everything else on their favourite social network at no charge.

Videocon to launch 4G services in Mid 2013

The operator will launch FDD LTE services in six of its seven circles.

Videocon Mobiles, which had won spectrum in six circles in auctions held last year, has announced that it will launch LTE network in the country. However, unlike Airtel and other 4G players, it will be an FDD network, a technology which is already working in the USA and therefore devices that are compatible with it are available in good numbers.
Videocon Mobile Services bagged liberalised spectrum in six circles of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, UP west, UP east, Bihar and Jharkhand. It will continue to offer 2G services in Punjab circle where its license was not cancelled by the Supreme Court.
Videocon Mobile Services is planning to roll out complete 4G products and services across the newly won circles in 2013. What will help the company is the fact that unlike the TDD deployed by Airtel, FDD networks are already operational in the USA and other parts of the world, and a wide range of handsets are available for that technology. However, once the complete roll-out happens in India with RIL, Qualcomm, Airtel and Aircel, Videocon might get isolated in the domestic market.
Currently, only Airtel is offering 4G services, though using TDD LTE technology, in Bangaluru, Kolkata and Pune.

Tata Indicom launches unlimited plans in Delhi

The CDMA arm of Tata Teleservices in Delhi is offering unlimited local calls for Rs 666 across all networks.

Tata Indicom, the CDMA brand of Tata Teleservices, has launched a new unlimited plan for its prepaid and postpaid subscribers in Delhi. The unlimited plan offer is available for Rs 666 for prepaid customers while postpaid users have to shell out Rs 899 for the same.
With STV (special tariff voucher) 666, Tata Indicom prepaid customers can make unlimited local calls to any mobile or fixed line network across the circle, with a validity of 28 days.
Tata Indicom launches unlimited plans
The postpaid subscribers can however choose from a set of available option for Rs 899, which include unlimited local plus roaming facility. Further all STD calls, regardless of the network will be charged at 1.2 paisa per second. Note that there are no restrictions whatsoever on the unlimited local calls, under this plan.
Postpaid customers can also opt for Rs 1099 plan which allows unlimited local and STD calling across network. The national roaming charges are 1 paisa per sec and SMS is charged 60 paisa for local, Rs 1.20 for STD and Rs 5 for International SMSes.
Tata Indicom has also launched an Unlimited Blackberry internet service that allows making unlimited local calls on any network. All STD and Roaming calls will be charged at a flat rate of 1.2 paisa per Sec.

MTS allowed to continue services

Operators whose licences has been canceled by the Supreme Court has been allowed to offer services till February 4th.

The Supreme Court has allowed telecom companies, whose licences were cancelled in February last year, to continue operations till February 4 this year. The move will provide some relief to operators such as Sistema-Shyam (MTS), Uninor, Idea Cellular and Tata Teleservices.
A bench of justice GS Singhvi and KS Radhakrishnan passed the order on a Department of Telecom (DoT) plea that sought an extension of the licences till the auction scheduled for March was over. The apex court will now hear the DoT's case on February 4.
MTS allowed to continue services
The court has asked the government to inform the court about the reserve price of spectrum for the upcoming auction on March 11 as well as the list of companies which did not participate in the November sale.
The order will enable Sistema-Shyam to provide pan-India CDMA services till February 4. Tata Teleservices, Uninor and Videocon can continue operations in circles where they failed to win spectrum in the November auctions. Uninor is planning to participate in the 2G auctions in March for the Mumbai circle.
The government has sought an extension of the mobile permits till the next phase of auctions so that continuity of services to consumers is ensured and there is enough interest in the upcoming auctions. This is the third time when the court has extended the deadline.
After the Supreme Court cancelled 122 telecom licences in February 2012, it allowed the affected firms to operate till June 2012. The telecom department then sought additional time to conduct the auctions and the deadline was extended to August 2012. The court also allowed firms that had lost their licences to continue operations till September 7, which was then extended to January 18 this year.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Aircel to offer services for Blackberry 10 devices

Aircel's plans are expected to be much cheaper than its existing Blackberry ones.

With Research In Motion all set to bring its two new BlackBerry 10 operating system based devices to India, Aircel has announced that it will offer special plans for the devices. The operator, which is the first to announce its plans for BlackBerry 10, will reveal the details of its plan within a week of the launch of BlackBerry handsets in India.
On January 30th, RIM (Research in Motion) will launch two new devices based on its new Blackberry 10 operating system. The new OS will be completely different from earlier versions and will in fact require a new infrastructure for enterprise services.
Other operators like Airtel and Vodafone are yet to announce anything in this regard but we expect them to be ready with the new plans too.
BlackBerry phones, unlike any other smartphone, require operator services (who offer it with special plans) to perform all communication related functions. You can't access mail, chat (BBM) etc on a normal data plan.
However, in case of Blackberry 10, things might change as the new OS might not require a dedicated plan if you do not want added security and therefore for most the new plans from operators might not be needed. Those who wish to access official mails on their phones will have to wait for operators to announce plans for BlackBerry 10.
The other good news with the new operating system is that the plans itself will become cheaper as some time back RIM's chief executive officer, Thorsten Heins said that only subscribers who want enhanced security will pay fees under the new system and that the fee will also be lowered for those who have to pay.

Airtel turns green

Airtel's infrastructure arm has equipped 24,000 of its towers to run on renewable energy

With lot of hullaballoo going around the emission surrounding mobile phone towers, Airtel has said that it has now reduced up to 11 per cent greenhouse emissions from its cell towers.
In its first sustainability report, issued on Friday, the GSM service provider has said that 24,000 of its mobile towers are now running on renewable energy (including solar, wind and fuel cell), with an expected reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by around 150,000 metric tonne of CO2 per year.
Airtel turns green
Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and managing director of Bharti said "I am delighted to share that our green initiatives have resulted in a reduction of 11 per cent in GHG emission/terabyte for our operations in India during the year 2011-12."
He added, "Similarly, in Africa, a slew of hybrid battery banks have been deployed, reducing diesel dependence in 60 per cent of the tower network. By 2013, this is expected to be 100 per cent for Airtel Africa."
Airtel has also said that it will convert over 5000 additional sites to solar power, 100 sites to Biomass and 50 sites to Hybrid battery solutions.
Other green efforts that Airtel plans to implement include creating Green shelters for its base station (machine at the towers) which come with optimal cooling, power and thermal management systems minimises the running of back-up systems like DG sets, reducing energy consumption by up to 40 per cent.
Airtel also claims to be working to develop BTS (Base station) with reduced power consumption (1 to 1.2 kW from 2 to 3 kW) that, apart from energy saving, enables the usage of renewable energy such as solar energy, which would have been difficult to implement due to high load.
It is also working on network deployment with outdoor BTS, as an outdoor base station does not require air conditioning which typically accounts for 35- 40 per cent of the total power consumption. The report claims that 67 per cent of the new BTS sites in the year 2011-12 were installed outdoor with an aim to increase it to 75 per cent in 2012-13.

Airtel, Vodafone, Idea hikes 2G data rates by over 25%

While 2G data charges have been hiked, 3G data charges will remain unchanged or might even be reduced.

Three major telecom operators in India - Airtel, Vodafone and Idea - have hiked their 2G data rates across all their major circles. This is the second time in less than a year that the telecom operators have hiked the mobile data tariffs.
All the three telecos are now offering the 1 GB pack, which used to cost Rs 99, for Rs 125 across all their major circles. The 2 GB unlimited pack, offered by both Airtel and Idea, is now priced at Rs 199 against its earlier price of Rs 149. In April 2012, the three operators had also reduced the data cap on the Rs 99 pack from 2 GB to 1 GB in most circles.
data charges have been hiked
However, there is no change in unbundled data usage which continues to be charged at 10 paise per 10 KB.
While 2G data charges have been hiked, 3G data charges will remain unchanged or might even be reduced as 3G adoption has remained dismal in the country. On the other hand, 2G data adoption has increased by almost 300 per cent in the last one year, according to reports.

Airtel announces huge discounts on UAE roaming packs

Airtel has announced huge discounts for its prepaid mobile customers who are travelling to UAE.

To cash in on the ongoing Dubai Shopping festival (January 3 - February 3), Airtel has announced huge discounts for its prepaid mobile customers who are travelling to UAE.
Under the offer, which is valid till February 3, Airtel prepaid customers can enjoy incoming calls at just Rs 20 without paying anything extra.
Airtel announces huge discounts
There are also two other packs - the first pack costing Rs 508 provides 30 minutes of free usage on outgoing and incoming calls and has a validity of 7 days. Another pack that costs Rs 994 provides 75 minutes of free usage with 15 days validity.
Standard roaming rates would apply for all other outgoing international calls, messaging and data usage