Airtel still facing a stiff competitor base here having overcome teething problems in the early days, is calling for increased collaboration with other mobile operators. “We urge competition to forge ahead and collaborate,” Bharti Airtel President Atul Bindal said during an interview with the Business Times on Thursday in Colombo.
In this respect, Airtel believes there needs to be increased collaboration in the areas of infrastructure sharing; in the process of customer acquisition; content for value added services; technology platforms; upgrades required for number portability; and engage in shared platforms for mCommerce if entered to in a big way. With expectations that the industry and market will open up and move faster, the company wants to witness going forward with greater choice, flexibility and pricing.
Perceived to be an “exciting year”, Airtel intends on focusing at deepening its presence in the country by offering a complete suite of services.
This will be in relation to mobile entertainment, mCommerce and mHealth and application stores that would be a pioneering and innovating service and set to be the single most popular platform.
Further, Airtel is adamant that number portability be a reality and awaits government regulation to be in place in this respect.
In this regard, Sri Lanka is believed to be having the required infrastructure relating to IT and network connectivity.
While noting that they were prepared to forge ahead with this innovative service that kicked-started in India about five months back, he said that “competition is never ready.”
Mr Bindal observed that it was important to serve customers with greater choice and adding that the market leader should be less worried about adopting this new concept. Going by India’s experience in number portability, he said, while they were capable of maintaining their dominant position in the market it was the small operators that tended to lose out.
Commenting on the company’s performance it was noted that they had already exceeded expectations based on healthy increase in customer market share, traffic market share and revenue market share.
Based on last year’s November brand campaign it had clearly worked well for the company that had resulted in Airtel becoming the preferred brand for youth in Sri Lanka, Mr Bindal said.
Comparing the Indian and Sri Lankan markets, he pointed out that they were currently feeding the new opportunities in terms of new countries and markets namely Sri Lanka and Bangladesh; new technology by bringing in 3G and the new verticals of mEntertainment, mCommerce and mHealth in the future.
“For South Asia as a whole by 2015 a substantial part of our revenue will be from these new verticals,” he said.
In this respect, Airtel expects to witness an explosion in the future with the coming of the new verticals into the market.