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Rediff.com  » Business » Now, mobile balance, recharge alert on the move

Now, mobile balance, recharge alert on the move

Last updated on: July 13, 2011 06:37 IST

Now, mobile balance, recharge alert on the move

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K Rajani Kanth in Hyderabad
Surendra Jain (name changed), a small-time merchant from Rajasthan, was recently on a business trip to Nizamabad district in Andhra Pradesh.

While travelling, he remembered he had to make an urgent phone call. However, when he whipped out his cellphone, he realised his prepaid calling card balance was not enough to make a call.

Caught in the middle of a highway, Jain was weighed down and it was only after much hunting that he could find a counter to charge his account.

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Photographs: Reuters.
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Like Jain, many have faced this dilemma, for which Netxcell Limited, a Hyderabad-based application services provider for telecom, believes it has a solution - 'CellSite Mapping'.

According to Debasis Chatterji, chief executive, Netxcell, the technology is a location-based service that is specially designed for prepaid customers.

Whenever subscribers come under the range of a certain cell tower, the operator concerned would send an SMS through that tower.

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Image: Debasis Chatterji, chief executive, Netxcell.

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For instance, if one's balance is low or sometimes negative, it would intimate the person about the balance and also about the nearest recharge centre.

"This SMS would be a non-intrusive form of sending information. This could also be a fantastic marketing tool for operators to direct their prepaid customers (to various apparel brands etc)," says Chatterji. He adds his company has carried out a pilot project for the service with an operator. He adds he plans to commercially roll out the service soon.

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Image: Non-intrusive form of sending information.

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Chatterji claims CellSite Mapping is a unique product. "Compared to other countries, India is an evolved value-added services (VAS) market. There are many telecom services and products which other countries have not heard of, since the business pattern or model here is totally different," he says, adding the market potential is huge.

According to an Indian Market Research Bureau report, the VAS market in India is estimated at Rs 14,500 crore (Rs 145 billion), and is growing at a 40 per cent compounded annual growth rate. The key driver of the growth is the concept of infotainment (information and entertainment).

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Image: Reuters.

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Chatterji says India is predominantly a prepaid market, in which 90-92 per cent customers are prepaid subscribers. Hence, such services have tremendous scope.

"The same CellSite Mapping technology can actually be used by hospitals, retailers or anyone, since it caters to broad segments of people. Whatever feed we want to provide, an operator can through this technology," he says.

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Image: CellSite Mapping, useful for users.

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In India, there are 800 million mobile subscribers, including 10-15 per cent multiple SIM holders.

Another 10-15 per cent of the subscribers are inactive ones. So, the actual subscriber base in the country that is active and operating is not more than 500 million, of which Netxcell caters to close to 300 million, across six major operators.

"In urban areas, mobile phone penetration is 125 per cent. Thus, there is now more scope for such services in the semi-urban and rural areas, where mobile penetration is still 35-40 per cent," he says.

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Image: 800 million mobile subscribers.

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Chatterji says his company has been continuously innovating products. In April, Netxcell had announced it was developing a single interactive voice response (IVR) service, Trinity.

Through this, voice-based content like songs, videos or any data can be transmitted to the end user on a single platform.

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Image: Innovation helps.

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"Today, data is transmitted through different servers in different locations. For instance, a Telugu person in West Bengal cannot listen to Telugu songs. But, with a single IVR, this is possible, since it is a single platform," Chatterji says.

"The advantage of a single IVR is that by using it from wherever one is, one can hit the server through the operator's service with a single short code. Using this single IVR, Telugu people in Kolkata would be able to listen to and download Telugu content or vice versa," he says.

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Image: Netxcell has been innovating products.

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Unlike the traditional manner of circle-wise content, the circle-agnostic Trinity service keeps the server centrally and enables content access from across the country that helps service providers cut costs.

Besides managing the content services much easily, he says, adding the company has reached a stage in which certain demonstrations and proof-of-concepts were provided to operators.

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Image: Making communications easier.

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NextCell would also launch a video outbound dialling (OBD) service on the 3G networks in the next two months. This can be used by operators and enterprises.

"Usually, we get SMSs when new products hit the market. With a video OBD (a mass application that can be sent to multiple users at the same time, unlike an MMS), one can actually send videos of a new product, like a video classified," he says.


Image: NextCell to launch a video outbound dialling (OBD) service.

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