Bangalore: Which mobile telephony firm offers the best tariff plan?
That’s a question that most of India’s 204 million mobile phone users have asked at one time or the other.
With at least six mobile telephony companies offering their services in each of the 23 telecom circles the country is divided into, and with each company offering multiple tariff plans, the answer isn’t easy—or arrived at easily.
The Indian arm of Texas-based Trilogy Enterprises Inc. has the solution, an online utility called YourBillBuddy.com.
Users upload details of their mobile phone bills on to the free site. The utility matches this with tariff plans of all telcos and suggests a new plan, or even a new telco. “On an average, there are six operators per circle, each offering at least five types of bill plans. Choosing the best out of these is a tough task, which YourBillBuddy.com simplifies,” says Subramaniyan Krishnan, a co-creator of the utility.
Trilogy, which provides e-business software to companies in several industries, says that YourBillBuddy is likely to stay free, and that it will likely translate into enough positive buzz about the company. The website, now in beta stage, supports ten Indian telcos across 20 telecom circles.
Dissatisfaction with tariff plans is one reason for subscribers to want to shift telcos. India’s department of telecommunications recently said that it was introducing the concept of mobile number portability—where a subscriber can switch operators without a change in number—in an effort to make it easy for customers to move from one telecom service provider to another.
Krishnan claimed that apart from helping users switch tariff plans, the utility can also help telcos manage their churn—or the number of customers wishing to move to another telco. “We are in talks with mobile service providers to exhibit the potential the website presents towards both acquisition and retention of postpaid subscribers,” he added.
However, such churn management will be restricted to those subscribers who have access to the Internet and use it to visit YourBillBuddy.com. According to Internet and Mobile Association of India, India has 28 million Internet users.
The utility currently supports only post-paid plans (where the telco sends a bill to the customer at the end of every month). Krishnan said that it would soon support pre-paid plans, too (where users buy a fixed amount of airtime from the telco).
YourBillBuddy, which had a soft launch in April 2006, has around 30,000 registeredusers. The company also has plans to introduce free short messaging service (SMS), photo-sharing, and file-sharing applications on smart phones that support either the Symbian (a popular operating system for top-end phones) or Windows platforms.