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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Vodafone India Launches Offer for Rural Women

Vodafone India has introduced a service called Vodafone Sakhi, targeted at women in rural areas in the states of UP-West and Uttarakhand. Users of the postpaid service will be able to recharge it privately through an OTP (one-time password) code, without sharing their mobile number. This code can also be used for all recharges done over a 24 hour period. In addition, an emergency calling feature provides women with 10 minutes of voice calls even with a zero balance on their account. A bonus pack giving health and beauty tips is offered free of charge for the first 90 days. Vodafone Sakhi is available for a starting price of INR 52.00 (US $0.78).

As we have reported frequently in these pages, mobile operators have found a winning strategy in getting to know their customers’ needs intimately and catering to them appropriately, and the more thinly the demographic is sliced, the better this approach works.

Vodafone India has identified a socioeconomic trend among women in rural areas and directly moved to meet it. The Vodafone Connected Women Report for 2014 found that there is a worldwide gender gap in which 300 million fewer women than men owned mobile phones and that this gap is most pronounced in developing nations.

As for India in particular, Dilip Kumar Ganta, Vodafone India’s business head for UP-West and Uttarakhand, recently said, “Our studies show that women in rural areas face socio-economic challenges in accessing mobile services. They tend to follow a shared phone concept, as they are hesitant to share mobile number due to security concerns. They rely almost entirely on incoming calls and depend on their families for recharges. ‘Vodafone Sakhi’ has been designed especially to bridge the telecom needs of women in rural areas and address their barriers to access mobile services at will.”

This extremely affordable offer is sensitively designed and should help women to join the community of mobile users without fear. Such an initiative makes the operator look good and also ultimately boosts the customer base.


Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.

To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

New FCC Chief Targets Net Neutrality



The U.S.’s new chief telecom regulator, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, last week moved quickly to close down an ongoing investigation into zero-rating practices among U.S. operators AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, indicating that he would indeed pursue the deregulating agenda that observers predicted he would. Pai said that zero-rating of services such as video streaming was popular with consumers, in particular low-income consumers. He also stated that he disagrees with the policy, championed by former FCC chief Tom Wheeler, of deeming broadband a utility—which would provide a strong legal basis for net neutrality. While specific new regulations have not yet been announced, and while any changes to net neutrality will involve significant legal challenges, Pai has made it clear that he will be a strong advocate against the present conception of net neutrality in the U.S.

Ajit Pai, a former attorney for Verizon, seems to be fulfilling expectations (including our own in these pages recently) that he would apply the deregulating agenda espoused by his boss, President Donald Trump, to the U.S. telecom landscape. While consumer advocates are decrying his approach as favoring corporate interests over the interests of the people, Pai’s intentions will likely generate policies that will benefit mobile operators and others internet service providers. Zero-rating and other forms of special treatment that operators can give to content providers are sources of revenue—in terms of fees paid by content providers and in terms of subscriber retention and acquisition—and sources of brand strength for operators. If Pai is able to enact his intentions, the only thing operators will need to be keenly aware of is whether in fact they are in fact giving customers what they want, or whether the preferential treatment given to certain entities ends up alienating customers, current and potential.


Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.

To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

AT&T, NTT Docomo Partner on VoLTE Roaming


U.S. operator AT&T and Japanese operator NTT Docomo have begun offering VoLTE roaming services in Japan. AT&T customers traveling in Japan are now able to roam on Docomo’s LTE network and enjoy high-definition voice-calling services in VoLTE coverage areas when calling other AT&T customers who have compatible devices. Docomo serves over 73 million customers throughout Japan, and AT&T’s VoLTE network covers more than 300 million Americans.

Voice-over-LTE, though it debuted in 2014, has been slow to gel. While it is viable within operators’ networks, interoperability is a work in progress. AT&T and Verizon have announced that their users would be able to make VoLTE calls to each other, but the service is still not fully rolled out, and access to VoLTE outside one’s own network is still quite spotty in the U.S. Furthermore, there are yet other hiccups with VoLTE: The service is reported to suffer from three to four times as many dropped calls as traditional cellular voice systems. On the other hand, service outages are far less common with VoLTE than with traditional cellular calling, giving the service an extra advantage beyond the primary benefit of higher voice quality. In short, VoLTE is a promising technology with definite boons to users and thus to operators, but it still needs all the help it can get in order to fully take hold in the marketplace.

With that in mind, we can see that offering international interoperability—even before domestic interoperability is completed—can help give the service a boost in the estimation of consumers. In making this arrangement with Docomo, AT&T is playing catch-up; rival Verizon Wireless began operating in Japan over KDDI’s network back in June 2016, at first just for Japanese customers in the U.S., and soon thereafter for U.S. customers in Japan. Depending on the network technology, AT&T and Verizon users’ VoLTE experience in Japan may actually be better than at home.


Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.

To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

3 UK Launches Wi-Fi Calling for Android and iOS


Mobile operator 3 UK announced that embedded Wi-Fi is now available on its network for both Android and iOS users. With it, customers can make voice calls and send texts over a Wi-Fi network when in the U.K. Users of Apple’s iOS phones need to have the latest software version, iOS 10.2, and then activate Wi-Fi calling in their settings. For Android users who have a compatible device and the necessary software, the Wi-Fi calling settings install automatically. Compatible devices currently are the LG G5, Samsung Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge will be compatible beginning in mid-February. The new service removes the need for the operator’s former Wi-Fi calling solution, Three InTouch app. InTouch users will receive a pop-up message informing them that they can delete the app.


The rise of non-cellular voice calling technology was originally a threat to mobile operators’ revenue streams because it allowed users to bypass calling plans and get access to unlimited messaging and voice calls, both domestically and internationally. Operators responded in various ways, including tolerating, co-opting or co-branding various VoIP services. Another non-cellular voice calling system, Wi-Fi calling, now becoming prevalent, is another technology that lies outside the traditional cellular calling networks. Rather than constituting an end-run around the operator, Wi-Fi calling is a billable service that keeps the user within the operator’s ecosystem. Its primary utility is when the cellular signal is too weak or unavailable, so with Wi-Fi calling that is billed within an existing calling plan, the operator can keep its subscribers using voice and text services even when they are in so-called “not-spots”—which are, according to reports, still quite prevalent in the U.K. By making access to Wi-Fi calling seamless instead of through an app, the operator ensures that more subscribers will adopt it, and that those who used it before will now use it more often. Therefore, 3 UK’s decision to make Wi-Fi calling “native” to a wide variety of smartphones in both major operating systems is an excellent one. Easily, intuitively accessible Wi-Fi calling will aid customer retention because rather than becoming frustrated with the operator’s service when the cellular network is unavailable, users will be able to connect by Wi-Fi (given that Wi-Fi networks are sufficiently prevalent) and stay satisfied.


Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.

To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Sprint Acquires Stake in Jay Z’s Tidal Music Service

U.S. operator Sprint has agreed to buy a 33 percent stake in the music streaming service Tidal. As part of the deal, Tidal and its artists will create exclusive content for Sprint customers. No financial details of the deal were disclosed, although Sprint is said to have paid around US $200 million. The rapper Jay Z, his wife BeyoncĂ© and the other artist-owners of Tidal will continue to run Tidal’s service, while Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure will join Tidal’s board of directors. Sprint and Tidal will also create a dedicated marketing fund specifically for artists, which will allow them the flexibility to create and share their work with and for their fans. The partnership follows Tidal’s recent unveiling of Master quality recordings, as it continues to focus on the high end of the streaming market. Tidal is available in more than 52 countries, offering over 42.5 million songs and 140,000 videos. First launched by the Swedish company Aspiro, Tidal was acquired in 2015 by a company backed by Jay Z and relaunched in more markets.

In the ongoing drive for mobile operators to stay relevant and not devolve into being mere providers of a commodity-type service, streaming entertainment content—especially exclusive content—has emerged as a major factor. Sprint’s purchase of a large stake in Tidal instantly makes the U.S. operator, which is majority-owned by Japan-based Softbank, a player in the streaming music game. Tidal is not one of the biggest music providers; Spotify, one of the global leaders, has 43 million subscribers, while Tidal claims 3 million and some reports say only 1 million.

Still, we think the acquisition of the stake is a coup for Sprint. For one thing, the fact that Tidal will create content exclusively for the operator means that Sprint will have a powerful tool with which to retain subscribers and attract new ones. For the operator, Tidal will be a brand enhancer that can sharpen the competitive edge. In addition, while Tidal’s customer base may be small, the company targets a high-end demographic with its relatively high pricing. And the fact that it is artist-controlled not only ensures that its offerings will be high-quality, it also affords another marketing opportunity to Sprint, which will be able to enlist the celebrity artists for promotional campaigns.

Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.

To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Subscribers Leave Golan Telecom After Acquisition

The rate at which subscribers are leaving Israeli budget operator Golan Telecom has tripled since the company was sold to Electra Consumer Products, an Israeli air-conditioning, home appliance and consumer electronics manufacturer, according to a report. In 2016, Golan lost 70,000 subscribers net. In the week before the deal, which was announced on 3 January, the operator lost 200 subscribers a day, and the pace at which subscribers were lost increased during the first week of January.

From its inception in 2012, Golan shook up the Israeli mobile market by dramatically undercutting the competition on price. In this way, it was able to capture about 10 percent of market share, while sharing Cellcom’s network. The acquisition by Electra will rescue Golan from massive debt, but it is scaring off a fast-growing number of Golan subscribers, who apparently foresee an end to the very low prices—a perception shared by market observers who hail the prospective rise in prices as a return to sanity, as it were. While there may be nothing Electra can do to staunch the bleeding of subscribers at the moment, the company should move aggressively to offer customers some tangible incentives to stay. Examples of such incentives could be new packages with creative plan features, customized offers tailored to the needs of certain customer demographics, special access to entertainment content. In the near term, generous limited-time promotions could also have a very beneficial effect for Golan.

Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.

To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Vodafone Qatar Launches Anti-Bill Shock Service

Vodafone Qatar has announced the launch of Bill Manager, a product that guards its Red Postpaid customers against bill shock. Bill Manager automatically gives customers the benefits of the best local data or roaming products when they go out of bundle, without their having to activate those products in advance. For example, once customers who start roaming in one of the 78 countries included in Vodafone Passport Pack and their roaming data or voice usage reaches QAR 100 (US $27.45), which is the price of the Passport Pack, they will automatically receive 1 GB of data valid in 78 countries, 1 GB of additional data valid in the GCC countries and 100 roaming minutes valid for a week at no extra charge. If the customer consumes the data or minutes within a week, Bill Manager will give them the same benefits the moment their usage reaches another QAR 100, and so on.

As another example of local usage, if a customer consumes all of the local data allowance included in their plan and starts getting charged at the standard out of bundle rates then upon spending QAR 20, Bill Manager will automatically give customers 200 MB without additional charges which is equivalent to the benefit of a Smart Data Rate product. If the customer continues to consume local data and reaches QAR 60 (US $16.47) in charges, Bill Manager will automatically add a QAR 60 mobile internet pack, which gives the customer 1 GB data. Bill Manager continues tracking usage levels, giving benefits of 7 GB data when a customer reaches QAR 100, and so on for all mobile internet packs. Bill Manager will be available for free for new customers on Vodafone Red Plans and will be automatically added to existing Red customers from their next bill cycle. Bill Manager will also keep customers informed via SMS notifications about their savings. Customers can also check the My Vodafone app.

While roaming surcharges will no longer be a source of revenue for operators in the EU after mid-2017 (if everything goes as planned), operators in other markets will still be benefiting in the foreseeable future—in fact, they can expect growth in this area, because travelers increasingly expect to use the same data-hungry services they are accustomed to at home. To meet their needs, operators are offering more complex and focused roaming bundles. However, many users will not purchase roaming bundles in advance, nor will they have roaming as a permanent built-in part of their plans. As a result, they are liable to so-called bill shock.

Vodafone Qatar’s solution to this problem seems to us to be a good one, keeping postpaid subscribers from incurring ruinous charges while abroad (and thus preserving good will and loyalty) but also keeping them actively using the operator’s data services. This may lead them, in future, to subscribe to packages with richer and more expensive roaming benefits. However, the Bill Manager product may be so good that it could risk cannibalizing the operator’s Passport Pack and Smart Data Rate products.



Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.

To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com