Bharti Cellular, Essar Hutchison and Idea Cellular have forged an alliance to route multimedia messaging through each other's network.
This will mean that nearly 100,000 MMS subscribers in the country will now be able to send and receive video and audio messages. Until now MMS could be sent only within the same operator's network.
Over 1 lakh MMS subscribers can send and receive video and audio messages
Lack of interoperability was a major bottleneck for MMS
20 billion MMS expected to be sent every month over the next two years across the world
MMS will generate $44 billion in annual revenues by 2006 for more than 40 operators across the globe
MMS is set to be the next big application with 8 out of every 10 handsets to become MMS-capable by 2010
Top cellular phone industry officials said the agreement was signed by the three companies a week ago and a formal announcement was expected shortly. Idea Cellular and BPL Mobile had earlier signed an agreement to route MMS.
The sources said there was no revenue sharing arrangement among the operators and like in short messaging service, operators had agreed on a "bill and keep" formula.
Lack of interoperability among various cellular network was a major bottleneck for the increased usage of MMS in the country.
"Interoperability between networks will give us a critical mass," said a cellular operator. SMS had become popular with mobile phone users only after all the operators were interconnected, he said.
In order to make MMS popular, most cellular operators are offering the services almost free. This means sending a video/audio message is cheaper than SMS, which costs Rs 2 a message.More than 40 operators in the world have launched MMS in the last six months. Industry analysts point out that by 2010, out of every 10 mobile handsets, 7 or 8 will be MMS- enabled. In Europe alone, MMS growth will be worth $ 10 billion by 2006.