Exploring the most recent techniques to maximize network load, while delivering decent quality, Uninor has made advancements that can potentially be transferred also to other business units.
At its best, telecommunication can connect people with opportunities. It has the power to transform societies, plugging people in to their community and their world. But to unleash that potential, mobile services must be affordable. Our Indian operation is breaking telecom conventions, to deliver the best value for money in the market while building a sustainable business.
Innovate in all areas
“The Indian mass market consumer is extremely price sensitive and will choose whoever offers him or her the best deal. With up to a dozen operators vying for customers’ attention in some circles, operators must offer value for money – good network, competitive prices and satisfactory services. For a low cost operator, those are all scarce resources if you want to build a sustainable business. Extending services to the mass market, Uninor must constantly innovate across all areas of our operation to build our business and our profitability,” says Yogesh Malik, Chief Operating Officer (COO) in Uninor.
Exploiting infrastructure to deliver quality and capacity
Uninor operates on a 4.4 MHz spectrum in all its circles. This is a challenge, especially in circles with a large customer base and strong growth. In the state of Uttar Pradesh, for instance, the company has close to 8 million customers. Additional spectrum is currently not available due to regulatory limitations. The Uninor team leaves no stone unturned to fully exploit the airwaves.
“Our team is working continuously to increase the capacity on our existing infrastructure. But this is not only about pushing more users in – we have to ensure we deliver decent quality to all our subscribers.
Maximizing network load
“Uninor has employed a variety of measures to optimize capacity and quality. So far, we have raised the capacity per site to 70 Erlangs or more, and in hotspots we have reached 100. That is more than twice the network capacity obtained through a traditional approach,” Yogesh explains.
Erlang is a measure of network traffic. It can be interpreted as the number of concurrent calls handled by a base station over a given period of time. Typically, a regular GSM site will handle around 40 Erlangs on a 4.4 MHz spectrum. Uninor already has 30% higher spectrum efficiency than incumbents in India.
Aggressive acquisition offerings to keep the pace
But network capacity is not guarantee for market success. The number of mobile subscriptions in India is more than 800 million, and that number is growing by 7-10 million every month. For challengers like Uninor, that translates to a monthly acquisition target of 1.5-2 million subscribers.
“To continue acquiring customers at the pace we need, we must give customers value for their money. Our Dynamic Pricing offer gives you discounts on every call depending on the cell site utilization. Our most recent offering takes dynamic pricing one step further: to boost our on-net traffic, we give differential discounts on Uninor-to-Uninor calls. Local calls within our own network are cheaper to handle, and enable us to pass on a part of our savings as substantial discounts to our customers,” says Amaresh Kumar, Chief Product Officer in Uninor.
An attractive operator
“Uninor has built a reputation of being extremely competitive on basic services like voice. For customers looking to maximize their talk time with limited funds, Uninor is an obvious choice. The differential discount for on-net calls makes Uninor an attractive operator for entire communities or clusters of people,” he continues.
“Targeting groups who belong to the same locality or school, we can optimize our networks further – increasing the coverage at sites that serve important clusters of subscribers, and optimizing coverage in areas where our equipment would remain idle. Rearranging our networks based on network activity enables us to focus our marketing efforts and our technology resources where it is most profitable,” adds Yogesh.
Low cost operations
While Uninor’s acquisition offerings are aggressive, the company keeps its eyes fixed at the bottom line. Profitability is the next milestone for our Indian business unit, and the management team is aiming to reach EBITDA break even in record time.
“Uninor is a low cost operator facing extreme competition in a crowded market. We need to work smarter than competitors, solving problems faster and more efficiently every day. We are working with operational efficiency projects in all areas of our operation, and we use all tools available to us to share knowledge and reuse concepts across circles. Not only will we look to learn from our immediate surroundings, we will make sure that we also draw on competence from across the Group. At the same time, we know that other Telenor Business Units can benefit from our India experience. Innovating in technology, products, marketing and distribution, while maintaining a lean and mean organization, we are building a sustainable business,” Yogesh concludes.