With cut throat competition, cellular operators in Kerala are adopting various strategies to woo new customers in the New Year, focussing on increasing penetration in rural areas and the number of ‘touch points.’ While a top operator like Idea cellular feels rural areas in backward districts of Wynad, Idukki and Malappuram have not been covered much, with only 40-50 per cent penetration now, another major operator Vodafone plans to focus on qualitative service and increasing touch points in the rural areas.
B. Ramakrishnan, Kerala Head, Idea Cellular Ltd., told PTI that while penetration in the central business districts of Kozhikode, Ernakulam, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram would be over 100 per cent as many people have multiple Sims, there is a ‘huge opportunity’ in rural areas. Idea has a subscriber base of 50 lakh in the State.
About 94 per cent of the land area in Kerala has already been covered by cellular operators, with over 90 per cent customers of major operators like Vodafone, Idea, Airtel and BSNL. There are presently 10 mobile operators, incluing BSNL in Kerala, the latest being Uninor.
According to R. Suresh Kumar,Vodafone Business Head, Kerala circle, the focus would be on providing quality network and more value added services like mobile commerce by which customers can book cinema tickets, books and recharges. “Our effort is to increase the utility of mobile phones and increase value added services’, he said.
Vodafone has about 40 lakh subscribers in Kerala and plans to go stronger in the next one year.
Suresh said the focus in rural areas would be to have enough ‘touch points’ and accessibility to various services.
Ramakrishnan said Idea had a very strong sales and distribution network, with over 300 showrooms across the State. “Our strategy will be to reach out to rural areas and customers and improve service, so that they will not have to walk 100 to 200 metres to go to a retail outlet to recharge.” he said. About 95 per cent of subscribers are pre-paid. “Though we are not consciously trying to woo young customers below the age of 14, the elderly customers are definitely on our radar,” he said.
According to Stephan Kercza, Uninor Hub head, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, they were targeting a clear segment, especially the youth. “India has a huge active young working population. This is the group we are targeting. This market will help influence other segments as well,” he said.
‘This segment knows what it wants and they demand it whether it is quality or plan combination. Their investment plan for the next 5 years in Kerala and Tamil Nadu is Rs. 13,000 crore,’ he said.
The Mobile subscriber base in Kerala is 2.09 crore with BSNL, Reliance and Airtel together having about 31 lakh subscribers.