Indian mobile operator Tata Teleservices has revealed it is in talks about forming partnerships with other WiFi players in the country.
“Cooperation with other WiFi players is something we are evaluating and discussing,” says Sunil Tandon, the head of non-voice services for Tata Teleservices Ltd. “We are in discussions with more than one player.”
Interest in WiFi is growing in India. Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) and Vodafone India , the country’s two largest mobile operators, recently came together to form an alliance, dubbed Firefly, to jointly bid for government WiFi projects.
Various state and central administrations in India are pushing WiFi deployments in India to provide Internet services. WiFi even featured on the election manifesto of the recently elected Delhi government. The technology is also an integral part of the “smart city” project launched by the central government.
However, like operators in other parts of the world, Tata is also experimenting with the monetization of WiFi networks. “Some of the monetization models are still being discovered,” says Tandon. “We have to find appropriate business models which make the projects sustainable. There are various experiments we are conducting in that space and these are in PoC [proof of concept] stage.”
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Tata is also experimenting with the use of location-based services as a way of monetizing WiFi networks in the country. It recently launched a subscription-based service that can be used by the customers of any mobile operator. “Any consumer who is going to be present at that particular hotspot can buy our vouchers,” says Tandon. “It is still early days but it is picking up nicely and it will be one of the revenue streams.”
Tata first launched its WiFi business about two years ago and has so far been deploying services in metropolitan areas and big cities. It currently claims to have more than 1,200 hotspots in the country at venues such as airports, hotels, malls and cafes.
Rivals including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India, as well as Idea Cellular Ltd. and Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd. , are also offering WiFi services in select cities.