We at TelecomTalk are dedicated to bring to you the latest news and developments in the Indian telecom industry. We got in touch with Mr. Alok Verma, the business head of Aircel Mumbai circle. We conducted an exclusive interview with him in an attempt to get to know Aircel's strategy for growth and expansion in the highly saturated and competitive Indian telecom market. Below are the questions we asked and the responses as received from Mr. Verma.
Q1) What is the current position of Aircel in the cellular market in Mumbai circle with respect to percentage market share of subscribers?
A. Aircel as a National operator is a complete service provider offering services under all the three existing technologies of 2G, 3G and 4G LTE bringing it at par with global telecommunication offerings.
In Mumbai, we provide a bouquet of 2G & 3G data, value added services & voice services to our customers. We hold close to 5% revenue market share and 8% of customer market share. We grew more than 73% year –on-year revenue in 2014 making Aircel as the fastest growing operator. According to TRAI, Aircel has now more than 23,00,000 subscribers in the Mumbai Circle, as of January 2015
Q2) Has the partnership with Reliance communications for offering 3G services in Mumbai circle proved beneficial in increasing Aircel’s foothold in the data market?
A. Our partnership with reliance has started since January’15, so it is a little too early to comment on the same. However the early indicators suggest that we are on the right path.
Q3) What is Aircel’s strategy for improving the network strength in Mumbai circle to ensure better coverage and lesser call drops?
A. At Aircel, we are continuously working and expanding our network. We have, over the past few months, made investments (both in terms of time and resources) in ensuring that our network provides the best of experience to our customers. We would be increasing our network presence in Mumbai by adding additional 250-300 sites this year. These additional sites shall help improve our quality of network and strengthen our existing coverage on both voice & data.
Q4) Aircel has launched 4G services in some of the cities in the circles where it has 2300MHz spectrum, what is the 4G strategy for Mumbai circle? Another sharing agreement on the cards?
A. Well, as of now we just want to focus ourselves in enhancing our 2G network and drive 3G services partnered with reliance.
Q5) Could you acquaint us with Aircel’s current retail presence in Mumbai and future plans of expansion?
A. In a step to further strengthen its commitment to customers in Mumbai, Aircel aims to expand its retail presence in the city in line with our customer market share a revenue market share growth. We have 5 company-owned stores in Mumbai at Charni Road, Chembur. Malad, Vashi & Kalyan. In addition to these stores we have 86 franchise owned “Express” stores. We plan to set up more than 120 more Express stores across Mumbai to take the number to 200+ by the end of the year. These express stores exclusively provide Aircel’s products and services, new connections, recharges and top-ups, resolution of customer queries, assistance and support to all new and existing Aircel customers.
Q6) The TRAI has recently proposed a number new directives including reduction of interconnect charges and national long distance carriage charges. How do you see these translating to revision of calling tariffs?
A. We welcome these initiatives from TRAI and believe that these initiatives will definitely translate in lowering the tariffs. However, if you see we already provide the most competitive tariff in the market be it local/STD or data. We are the only operator to offer local, STD and roaming calls at 10p/minute.
Q7) What are your views on the implementation of free incoming in roaming and roam like home by operators who possess Pan India license?
A. Free incoming while Roaming was pioneered by Aircel in 2013 itself wherein we gave our customers to use their phone while on Roaming. We are always committed to give our customers new and innovative products which are useful as well.
Q8) The recent launch of unlimited Facebook and Whatsapp plan by Aircel at Re.1/day in Mumbai circle has got many a people questioning about net neutrality and preferential treatment of individual data from selective apps. What are your views on this subject?
A. Aircel has always remained committed in giving its customers an extra reason to be delighted with consistent network growth, market-customized products and innovative initiatives. Facebook and Whatsapp are two very popular apps and in line with our philosophy of giving something extra and being the most affordable network, we are offering these two services at only Re.1/day to our customers