“We are leveraging big data & analytics to offer value-added offerings on Public Wi-Fi”


At a time when telecom operators and communication service providers are looking forward to creating innovative value added offerings for their customers, new age Wi-Fi driven revenue streams around Big Data & Analytics can recast innovation for operators.

Keeping the above trend in mind, Tata Teleservices is enabling next generation service delivery for its customers in India with the help of Public Wi-Fi infrastructure. Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com speaks with Sunil Tandon, Head Non Voice Services, Tata Teleservices Ltd about the company’s plans on driving new age monetization efforts as well as how it is aligning itself with the ongoing Smart Cities initiative in India.


Today’s operators look forward to monetizing data in a big way. What is Tata Docomo data strategy?

Data is the main driving factor for growth in the industry today. With changing trends, the requirement for constant data connectivity on-the-go is a critical offering for consumers. With millennials forming a majority of the population, their dependence on mobile devices as the number one information source for receiving (and sharing) everything from current affairs to celebrity gossip has increased exponentially; and public spaces have become fundamental to this trend.

A recent study by iPass suggests that there will be 47.7 million public hotspots worldwide by the end of 2014 and that over the next four years this number is set to reach 340 million; that’s the equivalent of one Wi-Fi hotspot for every 20 people on earth.

While public Wi-Fi services have evolved globally, they are still at a nascent stage in India. We are in the process of trying and testing out the additional revenue models basis end-user profiles and segments.

While mobile advertising has nearly doubled with a growth of 95% in first half of 2012 in the US over that in 2011, studies have portrayed a total market opportunity of INR 2700 crore for mobile games and apps in India in the coming years, which is promising. Thereby, apart from the traditional revenue generation model of paid usage beyond the free minutes, Tata Docomo is also exploring alternative revenue streams by offering value added services to its customers which includes location-based services.

How do you look at the emerging opportunities around Wi-Fi?

According to a report by market research company Informa Telecoms and Media, public Wi-Fi hotspot numbers are set to grow from 1.3 to 5.8 million globally in the next four years.

The recent explosion of data usage coupled with affordable mobile devices leading to the desire of constant connectivity are the main drivers of public Wi-Fi services. Over 2.4 billion Internet users across the world, of which nearly 1.5 billion access the Internet through mobile devices either as a primary or a supplementary device; studies have indicated that globally 70 percent of smartphone traffic rides on Wi-Fi.

Due to this millennial desire of being constantly connected, the generation supersedes all expectations when it comes to sharing and using the internet. Everything is shared, endorsement and validation is actively sought for – virtually – every activity for the millennial generation.
Driven by these changing trends of a whole new customer experience enabled by high speed and constant connectivity, the demand for public Wi-Fi services is showing a steady rise.

The government of India is moving ahead with its focus on smart city implementation and making India digitally enabled – what kind of opportunities do you think can come from these developments?

Given the PM’s vision for Digital India and Smart Cities initiative, I feel Government will play a huge role in helping clear roadblocks that service providers may face as far Wi-Fi roll out is concerned. We recently launched public Wi-Fi services in Connaught Place (CP) in partnership with New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). The Wi-Fi service covers the inner and outer circles of one of the most significant business and leisure centers in the city.

Other state governments have also started announcing Wi-Fi roll out plans. This clearly indicates that the market is upbeat and we will see all interested bodies coming together to collaborate in implementation of Wi-Fi services.

As operators look for monetizing data – they are increasingly moving towards utilizing big data / analytics. How does Tata Docomo look at this segment?

The traditional aspect of deployment Wi-Fi hotspot is the last mile connectivity offering, AP’s & authentication process. Going forward, there will be the need to explore alternate revenue streams like monetisation and analytics (Big Data).

We understand that Big Data yields critical insights that can be utilized to benefit the customer. We are working towards leveraging big data and analytics to offer value-added customized offerings to customers using our public Wi-Fi. The key aspect here is to enable Big Data and Analytics while respecting the privacy and security concerns of the customers.

What are some of the big innovation that are coming in from Tata Teleservices today?

Supported by the company’s wholly-owned national fibre backbone, Tata Docomo is one of India’s leading Wi-Fi service provider. Tata Docomo’s Wi-Fi provisioning has helped connect India’s top airports, cafes, retail chains, stadia, educational institutes etc. We are working to deliver the last mile connectivity and provide seamless AP’s & authentication process.

In addition to infrastructure, Tata Docomo delivers support services, security and a range of revenue models and value-added services to support these Wi-Fi zones in anticipation of the exponential growth of Internet usage on the back of year-on-year doubling of smartphone devices in India. We are exploring location-based services at retail outlets to deliver a unique shopping experience to consumers. We are exploring ways to seamlessly authenticate customers on the Wi-Fi network thereby increasing the adoption of such services. We are also looking at innovative business models which will increase the adoption of Wi-Fi across the country.

Today’s operators are looking ahead to be recognized as best experience providers for their customers – what is your opinion on this?

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has published a report on the Wi-Fi hotspot market claiming the key driver for operators to invest in this area is to improve customer experience . Today, customer experience features amongst the top priorities for transformation programs for our company.

We, at Tata Teleservices, are also trying to determine the effectiveness of the customer experience by using metrics to measure how customers rated their experience for specific interactions. We see these as a positive to providing feedback and instilling a focus on improvement while offering our services.

Digital enablement is playing a critical role for operators today. Please share your digital transformational strategy for your operations in India.
As per the India Mobile Networks Annual Report, there are over 2.4 billion internet users across the world and 1.5 billion use internet largely on the mobile phone. The way the world is moving today, it is not hard to imagine that all of us will soon stop opening our laptops too. A large part of the work happens on the phone as well and that’s where the numbers are driving.

Close to 70% of the traffic on smartphones relies on Wi-Fi.
So far our approach has been to build our own network. We do partner with the technology providers, which provide the access point and the switches. Going forward, we think various models will probably emerge. We are also evaluating the various options available. Therefore, cooperation and competition amongst players will coexist. Considering the geographical vastness of our country and the fact that internet access has not been available to a very large percent of the country, thispresentsa very large opportunity.

Where is the future growth for Tata Docomo going to come from? And how will you achieve this growth?

The whole data story in my view is in a nascent stage in our country. There is enough headroom available in terms of growth. The number of customers can only go upward from here and within that the average MB or GB of data consumed by the users can only go upwards. There are many drivers for it like relevant applications, ease of usage etc.

We also believe it’s an ecosystem play. Almost all the smartphones today have the Wi-Fi built in. Also, users are discovering more and more relevant apps everyday.