Trai seeks view of stakeholders on mobile VAS

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has sought the opinion of stakeholders on whether the current provisions under various licences (UASL, CMTS, Basic and ISP) are adequate to grow the mobile value added services (MVAS) market to the desired level.

In the consultation paper, Trai has asked for the additional provisions that need to be addressed under the current licencing framework, if the current provisions are not adequate.

Trai has issued the consultation paper suo-motu focusing on future looking regulatory framework for provisioning of MVAS.

Written comments on the issues raised in the consultation paper are invited from the stakeholders by 12 August and counter-comments by 19 August.

Among other things, Trai has sought to know whether there is need to bring the value added service providers (VASPs) providing MVAS under the licensing regime and whether this should be in the category of the Unified Licence as recommended by the authority in May 2010.
Trai wants to know how it can be ensured that the VAS providers get the due revenue share from the telecom service providers, so that the development of
VAS takes place to its full potential and whether there is need to regulate revenue sharing model or should it be left to commercial negotiations between VAS providers and telecom service providers.

Trai also wants to know how it can be ensured that the revenue share is a function of the innovation and utility involved in the concerned VAS and whether there should be different revenue share for different categories of MVAS.

The regulator wants to know if there is need to provide open access to subscribers for MVAS of their choice, and what measures are required to boost the growth of utility MVAS like m-commerce, m-health, m-education & m-governance etc. in India.

At the outset, the paper says that with rapid technological developments, the mobile phone has evolved from a mere communication device to smart phone with an ability to tap a plethora of information and services. The services provided over a mobile phone today have moved beyond their fundamental role of voice communications to a range of value added services.

Trai said that considering the market potential for MVAS in the coming years, a harmonized ecosystem needs to be developed for ushering growth in all the segments of the value added service including content development, technology platform, content aggregation etc. thereby enabling benefits to consumers and also revenue generation.

MVAS adds value to service, enabling the subscribers to use the mobile phone for a host of purposes like sending short messages (SMS), pictures, play games, listen to music, read news headlines, astrology, get flight information, surf Internet, mobile banking including mobile payments etc. 
In addition to benefiting consumers, MVAS is likely to become a tool for additional revenues, service differentiation, and customer retention for telecom service providers. MVAS is expected to be the next wave for growth and a large chunk of revenue is expected to flow in from MVAS in the near future.

Quoting from the IAMAI report, Trai says entertainment has a share of 57 per cent compared to 39 per cent share for information and only four per cent for m-commerce. Entertainment includes ringtones, music, contests, and voting games and so on. The total revenue from entertainment is Rs 67.6 billion. The revenue from information MVAS is around Rs 46.25 billion and from m-commerce it is a mere Rs 4.72 billion.

MVAS is presently centered on entertainment, music and sports. It is generally the younger segment of the consumers who take maximum advantage of such services. Increasing proliferation of mobile services has created a unique opportunity to deliver other utility MVAS to the masses through innovative applications.

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