News, views and commentary from the telecoms sector across emerging markets and developing countries worldwide

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Rural VAS tipped to grow in India

Late last week, writing about mobile content/VAS in emerging markets, I wondered whether entertainment or highly practical applications offer the best growth prospects. With this in mind, I noticed today that back in February, Kunal Bajaj of BDA (a consultancy business which originated as an advisory firm specializing in China's telecommunications/media/technology sector) was tipping mobile applications that enhance productivity for people living in India's vast rural hinterland.

Kunal was a highly rated contributor to one of the first Com World Series events it was my pleasure to host while working with Informa Telecoms & Media - the COAI-endorsed GSM>3G India 2007 conference and exhibition in Mumbai. I found the presentation he made then (on an unrelated theme) highly compelling - the piece he wrote on February 2nd, which rounds up BDA's 2009 predictions for the telecoms sector is also a good read.

Kunal Bajaj believes that "rural VAS, especially affordable of ad-supported, local language application" of the productivity-enhancing variety "will emerge as a key differentiator in service offerings as operators pursue rural expansion more aggressively."

Kunal feels that a key driver for the development of such services is the already low level of tariffs and margins in rural areas. Basic voice and messaging, it seems, are not enough as operators penetrate the markets beyond the saturated urban centres. Of the applications I mentioned last week, Kunal appears to agree that "information-centric contextual applications, such as information about commodity prices, crop and weather data" look promising.

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