Another Competition: Cellular Operators Battle on VAS

I am pasting a story by Muhammad Yasir, from today’s Daily Times.

Besides the price war among cellular phone operators on the calling rates and SMS packages, there is another battle intensifying among them for the innovation and offer of value-added services (VAS) to their customers.

All five operators are paying more attention to customising their VAS attracting their existing and new subscribers with the offer of affordable rates. They keep focus on income structure of mobile VAS aimed at improving Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) of their subscriber base. The operators’ ARPU continued to decline during this current fiscal year on high tax imposition, rupee devaluation, economic slowdown and stiff competition in the market, it was learnt.

Likewise in all over the world, the mobile VAS maintained rapid development in Pakistan. Cellular phone companies provide various common VAS such as Internet service, TV, weather updates, breaking news, sports updates, songs, online chatting, wallpaper, logo, games, multiple rings tones, themes, horoscope, SMS, MMS, and many others.

Now all operators are looking to introduce more and more VAS on their GSM network and investing them quite handsomely to increase their revenues, telecom analyst Khurram Schehzad told Daily Times.

In the previous fiscal year, the maximum monthly ARPU was recorded at Rs 240 or $4 that has been estimated to survive around Rs 160 per month or 35 percent down so far, he said and added therefore companies have kept focus on all their valued customers and are offering services for corporate sector and other users.

He added the companies continue to have sound strategy in VAS, and its traffic has been growing quite impressively but the users’ growth is declining slightly, which also affects its VAS.

Schehzad believed these new services would not attract a big number of masses owing to illiteracy and unawareness, however these are popular among the customers of the corporate sector.

Stock market updates and analysis is another useful tool for investors. Movie alerts, online magazines, comedy box, mobile Internet, music channels, payment of utility bills, mobile banking and BBC Radio pizza ordering, are just a few examples of VAS initiatives already offered by some of the top cellular companies in Pakistan.

Also, seasonal celebrations and other special events bring about more avenues of VAS in this sector, and almost all the operators cash in on this bonanza, he added. The entertainment-based VAS applications account for the larger chunk of VAS usage, however, the market is now evolving to more utility-based or function-based services, Mobilink official Sadia Dada said.

She added the VAS usage in the near future to evolve into more utility-based functions such as navigation, academic reference, payment of utility bills, mobile banking and even ordering food.

Religious alerts are also available including auqaat-e-namaz and auqaat-e-sehr-o-aftar etc. Even illiterate customers are enjoying these services that have been designed for their need and are user-friendly, Ufone official Mozzam Ali Khan said.

Voice message, chatting and wireless music products such as colour ring have been driving the development of mobile VAS over the past few years. Users have become accustomed to these services, which have been generally well received, he added. But some VAS also failed to attract customers’ attention and finally companies dropped advertisement of these products through media.

Officials of cellular phone companies told Daily Times the management of the companies are pressing hard to introduce new services to enhance the customers’ usage of services.

Zong official Amir Pasha said that the war has been heated up among the operators on VAS as it has been observed easily that the operators introduced two or three services every month. He added the revenue generations are quiet good in this ground despite a specific number of customers of various companies utilise VAS on limited scale.

According to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) statistics, the number of mobile phone users are on the rise in the country since its inception in 1994, touching nearly 90 million base of users which means that more than half of the 160 million population are using this service. The teledensity stands at 56 is the highest in South Asia.ANOTHER COMPETITION: Cellular operators battle on VAS

Via [Daily Times]

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK