In 2014, the country topped as the world’s fastest growing smartphone market. The availability of low-cost smartphones, tablets and customer-friendly data tariffs is driving internet penetration across urban, semi-urban and even rural areas. India’s digital aspirations are altering the dynamics of traditional media and entertainment industry, as more eyeballs are now shifting to online channels.
The Government of India is now focusing on preparing a complete framework for transforming India into a digital society. The objective of the mega plan is to help elevate the life of the common citizen in multiple ways and in a cost-effective manner. At Bharti Airtel, we have the right assets and the acumen to ensure that our response to this transformation is proactive and innovative.
One Touch Internet
As data networks expand and internet enabled devices become affordable – more and more Indians are accessing the internet through their mobile devices. However, our market research has shown that there are millions of customers across the country, who own an internet-ready mobile device and are keen on getting online, but are apprehensive due to reasons like lack of know-how and fear of incurring heavy data charges. Airtel’s ‘One Touch Internet’ will handhold first-time internet users on their mobile devices.
Driving Digital Inclusion
India has the world’s third largest internet subscriber base. But the country’s internet penetration stands at about 19%, which is low compared to internet penetration in other major economies, such as the US and China.
We believe digital literacy is critical to drive a knowledge-driven economy in the twenty-first century. In line with our belief, we organised ‘Each One Teach One day’- an industry-first initiative aimed at driving internet literacy in India. Our network of 1.4 Mn retailers, 20,000 on-the-field executives and 15,000 employees across a total of around 1,800 towns pledged their support towards the cause of widespread internet awareness in India.
With the proliferation of smartphones in the country, mobile phones have emerged as the most preferred platform, when it comes to experiencing music on the go and accounts for almost 85-90% of total digital consumption. We introduced Wynk Music – a device agnostic mobile application that is designed to introduce music lovers to a library of over 1.8 Mn songs (including Hindi, regional and international hits) curated by experts. With this launch, Airtel has now become the first operator to introduce an OTT (Over-the-Top) mobile
New Internet Products
3G Wifi Dongle: Airtel launched 3G Wifi Dongle being the first 3G operator to launch this device. The product can be plugged anywhere like phone charger USB, laptop USB, car charger to create a wifi hotspot and up to five users can connect and enjoy 3G.
Airtel myPlan - tailor-made plan for the entire family
We introduced myPlan Family for our post-paid segment, enabling customers to not just tailor-make their postpaid plan, but also share the benefits with their family. Our customers can now customise postpaid plans on the basis of their family’s usage preferences and requirements. They can share the benefits of the plan with five of their family members, thus ensuring zero wastage or overspend that are otherwise inherent in individual plans.
Airtel’s myPlan family combines the features of infinite flexibility offered by myPlan with the sharing feature to offer affordability, convenience and zero wastage.
High international call costs are a deterrent towards customers freely connecting with friends and family when abroad. At the same time, factors such as fast-expanding penetration of smartphones and adoption of data services have led to a new market preference for integrated forms of communication, such as video calling and instant messaging, among others.
We introduced ‘airtel talk’ – an all-in-one communication application that facilitates easy and affordable solution for Indians across the world to call back home. It can work as an alternative to expensive ISD voice-only calls, low quality messenger calls and calling cards, among others.
Voice Free for Broadband Customers
We are India’s first telecom services provider to offer our broadband customers free voice calls to any network in the country 24x7. We have launched two first-of-its-kind voice calling packs for our broadband customers, offering unlimited free voice calls at unbeatable prices to any number in India on any network, both fixed line and mobile, round the clock.
Strengthening Enterprise Services
We joined the AWS Partner Network (APN), which will enable us to deliver private network solutions for enterprise customers using Amazon Web Services (AWS) globally. This will help Airtel’s enterprise customers across the globe leverage the power of AWS Direct Connect to establish a dedicated network connection between customers’ premises and Amazon’s data centres. It helps them reduce network costs, increase bandwidth throughput and experience a more consistent network connectivity.
Airtel is committed to providing highly reliable connectivity between the customer location and their closest AWS data centre - thus giving a consistent user experience and secure network configuration, while reducing costs of IT infrastructure.
Enriching the TV Viewing Experience
Innovation and customer satisfaction is core to our DNA. We strive to empower our customers with superior television viewing experience by offering innovative and life enriching services, supported by cutting-edge technology.
We are the first to introduce the Universal Remote to the market, along with value-added services, such as Multi-lingual Electronic Programme Guide (EPG). We are also the world’s first USSD-based self-care facility on mobile, making Airtel one of the fastest growing Direct-To-Home (DTH) service providers in the country. We have a Self-Care Application for television sets, a first-of-its kind by a DTH service provider. The application enables customers with an Airtel Digital TV HD set-top-box to easily access their Airtel Digital TV account details on a real-time basis on their television sets. They do not need to reach out to the customer support centre.
We collaborated with Samsung to launch the Integrated Digital TV and introduce the Indian market to its next phase of TV viewing experience with the launch of Integrated Digital TV (iDTV). As part of this innovation - Samsung’s range of Smart Direct TVs will come designed with an in-built Airtel digital TV Smart Card. This will enable DTH signal reception without the need for customers to install an external set-top-box (STB).
Among Many Firsts
We are constantly innovating to meet the expectations of our growing fraternity of customers in India. In the last 14 months, we have opened over 100 Company-Owned-Company-Operated Airtel stores across India. These stores will offer end-to-end service support for their Airtel mobile, dongle and broadband connections.
Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, enjoyed robust economic growth of 5% in 2014, driven by strong investment in mining and infrastructure and by strong private consumption, especially in low income countries. Although there are headwinds, the region will continue to be among the fastest growing economies of the world.
We have steadily escalated our investments in Africa, as we see a lot of untapped potential in the communications sector. We are now well positioned to derive benefits of increasing tele-density in countries, which are under-penetrated.
Elevating Customer Experience
Self-Care: Self-Care is a handset driven self-service option that provided customers with multiple channels to get service anytime, anywhere. Following the launch, its popularity is steadily rising. In addition, service though social media gained extensive momentum.
Customer Engagement: We undertake several initiatives throughout the year to enhance customer engagement. During the last FIFA World Cup, for instance, 80 High Value Customers were sent to Brazil, who were selected through various promotions. Special events were conducted for premier customers. We also partnered with hotels, airlines, airport lounges and other well-known brands. It helped improve customer experience, as well as our revenues.
Airtel Specialised Customer Care Service: Launched in 11 markets with plans to extend across Gabon, DRC, Congo B, Chad and Seychelles. We have Airtel care active user base of over 70,000.
Airtel Zone: Airtel Zone is a dynamic tariffing solution that offers the Airtel customer an optimal tariff, in the form of a discount, at the time of initiating the call. This discount is calculated, based on the specific cell site, the time of day and the current utilisation characteristics. We have launched this across 12 African markets and continue to roll out in other operating locations.
Dynamic SIM Allocation (DSA): DSA was launched in Nigeria and provides Airtel the ability to supply the market with blank SIM cards, therefore making our SIM’s accessible to all. This is possible as valuable network resources, such as Mobile Numbers are not tied up at the time of distribution, but only allocated at the time of SIM activation. The solution can also be expanded to provide the customer with choices, such as Mobile Number, Language and Tariff Plan selection at the time of activation. DSA is currently being expanded to Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burkina Faso.
AppStore: AppStore, launched in five markets, plans to extend across Nigeria, Madagascar, Chad and Sierra Leone. AppStore has 40,817 active users, 20,358 downloads and 89,651 visits since its launch.
Micro Insurance: Micro insurance offers Airtel customers free insurance products, based on their monthly spend. The product is further enhanced by a paid-for model, where customers can choose to extend their cover.
Intenet Discovery Portal: It is a new data user on-boarding tool with a set of content including news, education and health, among others eg: Internet.org was adjudged the Best App at Africa GSMA 2014.
Wynk: We rolled out music app in eight markets and further plan to extend it across various other locations. We are in the process of improving customer experience and acquiring more content, based on market research and consumer behaviour.
Video Entertainment Store (VES): We have already launched VES in Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, with plans of further expansion. VES enables customers to watch videos at a low price and consume data with no charges.
Home Wi-Fi Router: Implemented in Tanzania, it provides connectivity to all devices (including non-sim devices). It has a screen with self-care app for subscription and account management.
Airtel Red: We launched our first customised 3G smartphone across 12 operating locations in Africa. Through this launch, we are focusing on migrating existing and new customers from the traditional feature phones to android smartphones; and take advantage of Airtel’s 3G networks.