by May 2, 2011 0 comments

3G is being aggressively advertised by all the major service providers and have been strongly targeted at the consumer. The advertisements have once again triggered discussions and piqued interest. The PCQuest Labs tested all the players offering 3G services in Mumbai and Delhi and ascertained Airtel to have one of the best speeds in the market. It peaked at 5 MB at the best of times. It has also unfortunately, garnered bad reviews within the Twitter universe by consumers who have been criticising the variance in speed. We have begged to differ. But that has been the consumer universe, not enterprise.

The enterprise arm of Airtel however, is silently strengthened. It has been reaching out to the enterprises and designing apps as well as plans catering to specific verticals giving an entirely different dimension to VAS.

The Positives

3G has put the afterburners on communication needs. High speed emails and bandwidth that an entrepreneur can’t afford. ‘An SME office is more mobile, his needs are more to do with quick access,’ said Anuj Kapur, Country Head, Telecordia Technologies India. ‘The very basic concept of 3G with wireless access helps SMEs to avoid lease line connections,’ said the utilisation expert. Even though present lease line connections offer speeds up to 10 times as much as 3G but are difficult to set up. Kapur doesn’t believe video calling, primarily a consumer technology, might make it to the business segment. ‘Video calling with customers might work, but it has several disadvantages -infringement of privacy.’ The call would have to be predetermined and might drop if the 3G network happened to shift into 2G.

‘Several applications are data and bandwidth hungry like VB apps,’ said Sanjeev Mahajan -VP & Head Enterprise Voice and solutions, Enterprise Services – Bharti Airtel, they need a network capable of holding its own.

The Potholes

The flagship plan catered to the enterprise customer is drawing criticism from users. The plan offers at the cost of Rs 675, a free usage of 1.25 GB after which a bill shield of Rs 2000 keeps the speed at 3G, while billing the consumer at 1 paisa per 100 kb just beyond the free limit. But before the shield is, in a manner of speaking, broken the consumer gets to use approximately another 2 GB before his speed drops to 2G-speeds ranging from 56 to 114 Kbps. A room of movement of 3.25 GB is pittance for an entrepreneur or business user who needs to save and move around data and is looking to find an alternate to desktop usage especially with the emergence of smartphones.

Targeting industry verticals

The service providers by targeting verticals have not only accessed the area of specialization but created a niche market making them corporate darlings. The two popular service providers -Vodafone and Airtel-have created apps to provide industry specific solutions. Airtel has not only introduced the email system but to empower the customer they have introduced tools for development of apps as well as apps to encourage the corporate consumers. A media app that Airtel offers lets a journalist record videos and stream them back to their back office servers over secure lines. ‘It helps obtain corporate data in a seamless and safe manner,’ said Mahajan. The HR training app helps them conduct training seminars through the video calling and designed apps to dispel the right information. A popular app that is being used is the Bangalore traffic police traffic violators system. The app was connected to the server which had a record of all traffic violations, each repeat violation could be tracked real time. The app was also connected to a Bluetooth printer that would print tickets instantly eliminating paper work.

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