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What will drive mobile internet usage?

According to a study released by IAMAI there are only about 2 million users accessing internet through their mobile phones on an active basis. Telecom Yatra spoke to a few industry professionals on what could be the drivers of mobile internet.

According to a report released by the IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) and IMRB, derived from TRAI findings, there are only about 2 million users accessing the internet through their mobile phones and other mobile devices on an active basis, that is, at least once a month.
The report further states that there are close to 127 million mobile subscribers, effectively 27 per cent of the total subscriber base of 471 million, who have internet ready mobile phones. Of these 127 million subscribers, only 9.4 per cent (12 million) users have used the internet over their mobile phones ever in this year. This number further reduces to 2 million or 1.7 per cent when it comes to active users. These figures are based on TRAI’s findings as on September 2009.

Telecom Yatra spoke to a few industry professionals on what could be the drivers of mobile internet. Rajiv Hiranandani, co-founder and executive director of mobile marketing agency Mobile2win, feels that mobile operators should educate their customers about using mobile internet. Moreover, he feels better and affordable data plans will also increase its usage. Mobile internet penetration in tier II cities will also steer the growth as these areas ape urban India, adds Hiranandani.

Sujata Dev, managing director, Times Broadband, feels that good and connectivity will push mobile internet. She says that rich data is what users will be looking for on the internet. “The data download on mobile will buck up ARPUs (average revenue per user).” According to Dev, the major chunk of people using mobile internet are the ones on Blackberry and other high-end handsets. Considering the price consciousness in India, she thinks right pricing by the operators could boost mobile internet.

However, Krishna Durbha, head of VAS, and content at Reliance Communications, feels that the roadblock to mobile internet is not pricing but the difficult accessibility in phones. He explains that even if the operators introduce affordable data plans, the handset should be compatible enough for easy internet access. Durbha thinks that handset manufacturers should make the access of internet at one click on mobile. The settings are sometimes too complicated, which turns down the usage, he adds.
Telecom operators have already started introducing affordable data plans. For instance, Aircel introduced pocket internet cards for Rs 98. Tata DoCoMo has Gtalk and Facebook included on its internet enabled phones. MTS offered 15 free download on purchase of its MBlaze data connection as a part of inaugural offer in Mumbai.

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