Friday, April 03, 2015

Data Focused MTS India to Loose Battle on Smartphone Field

In a very interesting move Russian Govt & Sistema promoted MTS India, country's sole CDMA based mobile voice & data service provider has decided to stay away from upcoming spectrum auction citing the reason of too high baseprice of 800 MHz airwave. 

Globally most popular LTE bands are 1800 & 800 Mhz. In Europe GSM is predominant over CDMA, it makes LTE-FDD roll out favorable on mostly vacant 800 Mhz band. There, in general mostly used bands are 900Mhz for 2G and 2100Mhz for 3G. As there are fewer operators (MNO) and less population there, their requirements did not expanded much to 1800Mhz, the vacant 1800Mhz band is also used for LTE FDD roll out. 

In India situation is different - hence govt. sold 2300Mhz band for broadband wireless access, which is again unpaired - suitable for LTE TDD. Globally LTE-TD is gaining traction in countries like China, India, Brazil, Russia, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka. And in some countries operators are deploying LTE-TD as an enhancement to existing LTE-FDD networks. 

In India GSM players, more specifically incumbents are looking for 800Mhz band as E-GSM spectrum. The reason is simple: They can put pressure on CDMA operators with less spectrum for CDMA or future LTE deployment , as well as can deploy LTE-FDD on 800Mhz which can offer wide coverage compared to LTE1800 & LTE2300. Indian players with unified 1800Mhz band are planning for LTE-FDD roll out; the list includes Vodafone, Idea, Videocon and Uninor. State owned players BSNL & MTNL, wallowed by the poor finances want to skip the 4G party. 

Now let's back to MTS India. Being jolted by 3G players MTS who always talks about data, had rolled out its Rev B phase II network, branded as 3GPLUS or MBlaze Ultra. With good promotion of its WiFi Hotspots It makes good customer base on data front, even taps GSM smartphone & WiFi tablet users. To promote their Wifi products they've started campaigning with a catchy name 'HomeSpot' to reach even home users - to compete against wired home brodband service providers.

But MTS misses one spot in the data business - smartphones. Unlike Reliance & TATA Docomo, they never launch good specs, popular brands and open CDMA smartphones which sports latest Android version. They have their own smartphone series - MTag and Blaze series, these are mostly by Chinese OEMs like Huawei, ZTE, Coolpad or rebranded Micromax, Lava. Specification wise these phones are not at par with HTC, Motorola, Nokia or Samsung. MTS even is not allowing MEID registration on foreign imported smartphones - that's so disappointing! At the same time Reliance & Tata Docomo allows and Reliance has more loyal CDMA users. 

Issues with MTS Smartphone Strategy


1. Made by Chinese OEMs or rebranded 
2. Hardware is not upto the mark
3. Android version is old, the UI is not good enough.
4. No chance of getting Android updates in future.
5. Poor battery life, partly due to Andoid OS, partly due to poor R&D smartphones.
6. The CDMA ruim slot is locked with MTS
7. You can't be part of 3rd party development because of non popular Android phones.
8. Operating system choice is only one - Android. MTS has no Windows phone in its sleeve.
9. They don't allow MEID registration on imported non-sim smartphones. 
10. The regular data plans are in line of Airtel & Vodafone. Reliance & Tata has cheaper CDMA data plans for smartphone users (less than Rs 100 for 1GB data). On 3G Reliance, Tata, Aircel and Idea (in few circles) are offering more pocket friendly plans. 
11. They don't endorse open market smartphones from HTC or even ZTE. While both Reliance & Tata are offering these. 

One thing is for sure MTS is underestimating Indian customers. They thought if pricing barrier of smartphones can be broken, they can be a part of data evolution in the country in a true way.
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