Interview — Bharti Airtel hopeful of 200-m user mark in 3 years
Posted by telcobizpedia on June 3, 2009
On The Hindu Business Line dated 03 June 2009
Thomas K. Thomas
New Delhi, June 2 To keep its leadership position in the fastest growing mobile market, Bharti Airtel is embarking on a multi-pronged strategy, including a comprehensive customer retention programme, partnerships with companies that offer mobile entertainment and commerce services, domestic acquisitions and a thrust on driving growth in the rural areas.
In his first interview after taking over as the President of Bharti’s mobile business, Mr Atul Bindal, told Business Line, “I do not agree with those who say Indian mobile growth story is on the verge of getting over. We will reach the next hundred million subscribers by a combination of reaching out to the huge potential that exists in the rural areas, taking advantage of the untapped opportunity in large urban areas and possibly through the organic route which we will evaluate as when opportunities come by.”
Bharti crossed the 100-million mark in May and is hoping to reach the 200-million mark in another two-three years.
Asked on the impact on Bharti of new players and introduction of mobile number portability (MNP), Mr Bindal said the company has put in place a customer life-cycle management system which will enable it to take customer services to the next level.
“At present most operators are looking at a few broad consumer segments to create offering and services around them. We are going to take this to the next level wherein Bharti will target micro segments of subscribers to offer customised services. For example, a subscriber who travels a lot to a particular country would like to get a special international roaming tariff. The system will allow us to target products based on the user’s behaviour rather than launch broad mass offerings,” Mr Bindal said.
He added that MNP is an opportunity for Bharti to acquire customers from other operators.
Mr Bindal reckons that mobile commerce and mobile entertainment are going to be big applications.
“Value added service the way we know today is going to change drastically. We are giving a huge thrust to music, games, movies and sports under mobile entertainment wherein we plan to be an end-to-end service provider. We will also enable application providers to use Bharti’s network as a conduit to reach our subscribers. In m-commerce, we are looking at the unbanked segment and micro-finance in a big way,” he said.
Asked if Bharti was open to tie-ups with companies such as Nokia, which also is launching an entertainment platform, Mr Bindal said that such partnerships were possible.
He also did not rule out the possibility of Bharti acquiring small companies offering value-added services or a technology that will add to its business model.
“Bharti has always been in favour of strategic partnerships and alliances as long as it offers a compelling value proposition to our customers,” Mr Bindal said.