A study into Mobile VAS in India: Calling all mobile and wireless startups


With the increasing monthly additions in subscribership, TRAI reports that there are 601 million mobile subscribers in India as of April 2010, causing 54.10% teledensity.Mobile value-added services are those services that offer differentiation and the ability for mobile operators to charge a premium price.

Mobile VAS include

(1)    Non-voice advanced messaging services as SMS, MMS, MIM (mobile IM) and unified messaging

(2)    Wireless data services based on wireless data bearer technologies such as WLAN, 1xRTT

(3)    WAP (wireless application protocol) VAS applications including mobile gaming.

(4)    Voice-based services such as push-to-talk and WDA.

The revenue through MVAS has been growing in the past years and by the estimates in the study, it is INR 11,680 Crores in size. Traditional MVAS like P2P SMS and Caller Ring Back Tones (CRBT) continue to be a substantial provider of these revenues. These basic services are expected to be large contributors.

Furthermore due to increased competiton call rates have been declining causing low Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). With the advent of 3G MVAS revenues are the thing to look out.

VAS can also be divided as

(1)    Entertainment VAS 57% INR 6,760 – Ringtones, Music, songs, Contest, Voting, Gaming

(2)    Information VAS - 39% INR 4625

(3)    Mcommerce VAS 4%

All VAS share the same characteristics:

  1. Not a form of basic service but rather adds value total service offering
  2. Stands alone in terms of profitability and/or stimulates incremental demand for core service(s)
  3. Can sometimes stand alone operationally
  4. Does not cannibalize basic service unless clearly favorable
  5. Can be an add-on to basic service, and as such, may be sold at a premium price
  6. May provide operational and/or administrative synergy between or among other services – not merely for diversification




Rental Revenue



Revenue from calls



Revenue from Roaming



Revenue from SMS, VAS & Installation



Every VAS will demonstrate one or more of the above characteristics. Furthermore, a value-added service will never stand in stark contrast to any of the above characteristics.VAS also have a certain time dimension associated with them. Subjectively speaking, a value-added service today becomes a basic service when it becomes sufficiently common place and widely deployed to no longer provide substantive differentiation on a relative basis.

With the advent of 3G it is interesting to see in which direction MVAS field is set to flow.

Data Source: TRAI

Arunabh Mishra has worked as a tech-consultant, a network engineer and a software engineer with Vodafone, Accenture and British Telecom. He also co-founder of a blogertising startup '3ardent'. He has developed a certain niche for wireless and telecom industry. A graduate in electronics and communication he also has a knack with pen & creativity.

One can follow his blogs at www.3ardent.com, arunabhmishra.wordpress.com


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