First place in the 3G race(among the private telcos) can now officially be given to Tata DoCoMo. The company unveiled ‘Tata DoCoMo 3G Life’, its 3G service. And in what can be described only as a “Bumper Diwali Gift” for its customers, it will offer 3G services free of cost for a whole week, beginning midnight on November 4th. Tariffs will be made public before November 11th.
Just like Aircel, DoCoMo too will inject $500 million into the rollout. It has 3G spectrum in 9 circles including Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh (West), Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra. It hopes to complete a rollout in these circles by the end of the year. The company attributes its ability to be the first one out of the blocks to the fact that it laid out a 3G ready network when it set out to launch its 2G services. So could we put that down to ‘late mover advantage’? It does partner with the Japanese based NTT DoCoMo which has always pioneered research in telecom space, it was one of the early movers with 4G too. Others however attributed to it the company’s relatively small network.
While Tata DoCoMo doesn’t cover most of the Metros, where many expect a stronger uptake of 3G. It will cover 51 percent of towns with a population over 1 million and 60 percent of the towns with a population over half-a million, where 3G has the potential to be a revolution – provided it is ‘competitively priced’.
3G is not a premium service
Everyone remembers how Tata DoCoMo triggered a price war thanks to its ‘disruptive innovation’ – the per second pulse. Then, it was one of the last entrants into the space. With 3G, being an early mover, it has the opportunity to set the tone for the entire 3G market. And in a price sensitive market like India, we all know what the best way would be.
Anil Sardana, MD, Tata Teleservices has stated that the company does not consider 3G to be a premium service. It is expected to have tariffs that will ‘incentivize’ higher usage. The stand not to classify its 3G service as premium is vital, given its network footprint has a large number of towns.
Since it is Diwali and gambling is in the air. Tata DoCoMo has taken Aircel’s bet of 4 ‘3G Experience Centres’ and raised it to 4000 retail stores that will serve as ‘Experience Stores’ coupled with 1 week free of 3G services. At these stores, customers will get a first look at its 3G services like video SMS, video streaming, mobile television, ultra-high-speed data transfers, route-finder and even ‘live aarti’. Smart Move!
The 3G Life microsite is setup to catch all the buzz related to 3G on social media. Even filter it and look at exactly what people saying about a 3G area of your interest. The 3G section on its own website is loaded with a countdown to 3G, list of 3G compatible phones and answers to all things 3G!And the 1 week free 3G services idea is simply brilliant. Sure, it will lead to some loss in revenues. But it will allow them to study 3G usage unhindered and design their tariffs in a way that would probably appeal most to 3G adopters.May even win some customers. In case you’re wondering, Tata DoCoMo subscribers will automatically be given access to its services once it is deployed since all SIM cards are 3G enabled. The 1 week period will also be a mettle test for its network infrastructure and the give us a good idea of what to expect. And when (and if) Mobile Number Portability comes in. Who knows!
There are some serious concerns about DoCoMo’s ARPU(Average Revenue Per User), which is already among the lowest in the telecom space. And the effect of a 3G price war on the entire telecom industry, should the company spark one off with low priced 3G services. But Tata DoCoMo is relying on the fact that increased 3G usage and the consequent increase in a subscriber’s monthly bill will bode well for the company.
Will Tata DoCoMo’s early mover advantage last once the larger players enter the 3G arena? Will it play the pricing game? Let us know what you think!
Tata DoCoMo Unveils 3G Services – Free For A Week!
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