Pan-India mobile operator Aircel plans to increase market share in key circles by adding more youngsters, migrant workers and data customers to its network. Apart from 2G and 3G, the company also has broadband wireless access (4G) spectrum in eight circles, which it won in the 2010 auctions. Chief marketing officer Anupam vasudev, in an interview with Rhik Kundu, outlines his plans. Excerpts:
You recently rolled out 4G on dongles. When do you plan to start it on the mobile platform?
Our current focus is on enterprise and the home broadband sphere. At present, the 4G ecosystem is not very well developed for us to go after the mobility business. Also, broadband speed and availability are restricted to certain markets, which presents us an opportunity to deliver. As for 4G on mobility sphere, we are in the testing phase. We will be able to tell more only after a year.
Reliance Jio is expected to launch competitive 4G services this fiscal. How are you gearing up for the competition?
We will have to see how it goes. 4G is relevant for their strategy as they don't have 2G. So, RJio's strategy will be totally different from every other player’s. We have 2G, 3G and 4G, which is an advantage. We will use all of these to compete with them.
When do you see 3G reaching its full potential in India?
It's been 3-5 years since the 3G launch, but most operators' networks are running at half the capacity. In the mobility space, even 3G is under-penetrated at the moment. But the push is happening slowly, with phones getting cheaper.
Once consumers get access to handsets worth Rs 2,500-3,000 that support 3G, its potential will be truly realised. This is 2-3 years away. Though 2G will remain the dominant force, the revenue pie will shift to 3G. 2G customers, who will fundamentally be the lower ARPU ones, will be consuming more voice and a little bit of data. 3G customers give us five times ARPU on data today. They will consume that much more.
Over-the-top players, such as Facebook and Whatsapp, have hit sms services of telcos. How do you plan to counter the threat?
OTTs are a necessary part of our expansion. If they were not there, data consumption would be much lower than present levels. Yes, they are taking away some revenue, but the consumption of data is up with explosion of content sharing and communication online. Sms