MTS is the only CDMA player in India that has no GSM network. The other two CDMA players Tata Docomo and Reliance Communications have GSM networks too. MTS has more than 16 million subscribers, at least 10 per cent of which were using dongles (data cards) in the month of June 2012. The operator wants to grow further and is now not only bringing attractive plans for customers, but has also launched around 12 MTS branded CDMA handsets to lure new users.
Already, in the last two months MTS has launched as many as five smartphones in India. Apart from that it also showcased three new dual SIM Android phones this week, which can use both CDMA and GSM networks. The aim of this move is to lure GSM mobile users who are reluctant to migrate to CDMA.
MTS seems to have adopted a three pronged strategy to lure mobile users to its CDMA network. The first strategy is to launch smartphones at various price points, starting from Rs 6,000 and going up to Rs 12,000. These smartphones include both single SIM as well as dual SIM versions aimed as upgrades at existing CDMA users, and at GSM users to experience the data benefit that CDMA offers at affordable rates.
The second strategy seems to be to cater to tablet users in the country. The first step that MTS took to implement this strategy was to launch a tablet in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh on a pilot basis to gauge the consumer mood. After getting an overwhelming response MTS is now gearing up to launch Android 4.0 based tablets across the country.
Finally, MTS also wants to lure frequent travelers with international roaming agreements, which allow them to stay connected even in countries where CDMA is not available. MTS has already launched a globetrotter SIM card which works with GSM handsets, and it plans to launch dual SIM dongles which can work on GSM SIM cards while traveling abroad.
MTS all this while is also expanding its networks to more towns and cities. It has already launched services in more than 420 towns and cities including the five metros (Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore,) and is in the process of adding more. It has even launched an Rev B network on the Jaipur-Delhi and Chennai-Bengaluru highways, that offers speeds of up to 9.8 Mbps, which is faster than to the usual 7.2 Mbps on GSM 3G.
The CDMA player has a roaming agreement with Tata Docomo’s CDMA business so that customers get high speed data even in places where the MTS network is not available, without paying extra.
The operator is planning to go deeper by launching high speed data services in smaller towns. As Lenny Musatov, chief marketing and sales officer at MTS, said, “We have launched our high speed services in certain small towns in Rajasthan and we have been surprised by the rapid uptake, which points to a huge demand in these areas, and we are gearing up to service this demand.â€
On the tariff front MTS is charging just 30 paise per MB in select plans when the user exceeds his data limit, along with a reduced speed of 144 Kbps which is better than all GSM 3G offerings.
Currently, MTS is offering many unlimited packages to its prepaid customers starting from a one day pack worth Rs 96 that offers 1 GB high speed data to a 7 day pack that costs Rs 298 for 2 GB unlimited data. In terms of monthly packs you have the option of 5 GB, 10 GB, and 15 GB packs which costs Rs 798, Rs 999 and Rs 1,298 respectively.
The teleco also offers some monthly packs such as the Rs 248 pack of 1 GB data; Rs 348 for 1.5 GB, Rs 490 for 3 GB; Rs 698 for 4 GB and Rs 798 for 6 GB. A 90 day pack of 6 GB costs Rs 998. There are two more long validity packs costing Rs 698 (4 GB with 60 days validity) and Rs 1,499 (15 GB with 90 days validity).
Post paid customers have it even better with Rs 444 for 3 GB per month and extra usage charged at 40 paise per minute. Unlimited packs offer slightly extra too like 6 GB and 12 GB instead of 5 and 10 in prepaid.
MTS offers three packs with three months’ validity with 3, 6, 12 GB of data every month priced at Rs 2097, 2397 and 2697 respectively. It gives free CDMA dongles with these packs.
The operator also has a new unlimited social media plan which not only allows unlimited access to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn but in addition offers 6 GB for Rs 647.
Troubles that MTS faces
MTS’s licence had been canceled by the Supreme Court through an order in January this year. Thus, its survival will depend on either winning a curative petition it has filed with the apex court in which it has contested the court’s decision. Alternatively, the teleco can participate and win in the bidding when 2G spectrum is auctioned by the government later this year.
If it chooses to bid, MTS will have to shell out at least Rs 18,200 crore as that is what the Union Cabinet has approved as the minimum price for 5 MHz spectrum in the 800 MHz band, which is being used for CDMA services. However, MTS has contested this figure saying that it is arbitrary and that there is no demand for CDMA spectrum and therefore such a high base price is not reasonable.
However, the operator has said again and again that it remains focused on India and the CDMA business. However, Lenny Musatov recently said that there is no absolute ‘no’ in business decisions at least at this point when there is no clarity on a lot of things including how the auction will be carried out.