Whose Game is it anyway?

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Whose Game is it anyway?Telecom in India has crossed the nascent stage and matured into one of the most profitable domains in the market. Starting from a modest one circle per operator in early 90s today the 5 major Telecom operators with nation wide licenses finds it difficult to service the mammoth Indian population.

How else does one explain the licenses for new operators?India has seen rapid growth in the telecom market. I remember the early days when one would be charged Rs.10 for receiving the call and seriously people would still use mobile phones.

It was another issue all together that it was more of a status symbol to have one. A lot has changed ever since with call rates sky diving and electronic prices going South, globalization has only contributed in this sector India thanks to its population and mentality to show off (what else do you call a person having 3 mobile phones and numbers?) has one of the largest subscriber base in the world.

Today a call costs nothing more than a paisa per second or a character apiece for messaging. India is all mobile and why shouldn't it?

Everyone from the top honchos to their drivers, servicemen to delivery boys has a mobile. School going children want a cell phone more than they want a Hero pen ( we so very much desired at our times and yes I am talking just about a decade back), they learnt the sms lingo much faster , no wonder the grammar teacher has her bag of woes full! The mobiles are here to stay and so are the telecom companies. No wonder more companies want a bite of the Indian pie.

But as the battle ensues for supremacy and cutting into each other's subscriber base, what would decide the winner? Let's take a look at what the telecom folks are vying with?

1. 3G : This is one service that is on everyone's mind. Japan was the first country to have a commercial launch of 3G by NTT DoCoMo somewhere in 2001, while we are still reeling under the weight of bureacracy almost a decade later. The telcoms are all waiting to see who gets its license first. While some of the companies are already advertising their 3G ready networks, others are wondering whether investing in 3G infrastructure would be a safe bet.

2. Number portability : having number portability made mandatory, TRAI is waiting for the implementation by telecom companies. This will allow the subscribers to jump providers without changing their numbers.

3. Pricing : This is one war that bleeds everyone but there is not much choice left. One jumps everyone else has to follow suit. The only solace is that you save your subscriber base from tumbling due to pricing.

4. Marketing : Each one on his own. Every company is employing the best advertising company to convey relevant mass messages. Whether it is Idea's campaigns to save trees or Airtel's emotional touch about national integrity. Everyone is trying their luck.

But the defining one would definitely have to be SERVICE

With all other features being almost at a competing level, the game would be won on one rule that has differentiated the winners from the losers in any industry - the best service provider. It would all boil down to who provides the best service. Whether it is the calling rates or easy accessibility to bill payments, functionality or least percentage of call drops. And the Indian customer wanting maximum returns for their money -- I would suggest that companies take a look at their capability to provide best service else bid a good bye to the customer.

The game has changed, so have the rules but the underlying goal remains the same -  the best SERVICE wins!

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