Mobile phone service providers Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm are trying to cash in on the general elections by offering a range of poll-related services to deepen their customer connect and boost data usage.
Market leader Vodafone Idea is working with the Election Commission of India to monitor polling booths in some states.
Second-ranked Bharti Airtel is offering election coverage on its app to keep customers updated as the largest democracy votes. Elections in India started on April 11 and will continue in phases till May 19. “These efforts may not lead to customer increases since one does not switch SIM cards just for election purposes but will definitely help in the telco’s brand image as responsible companies,” said Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India, a group of private telcos. Analysts said this is an important time for telcos to push data consumption.
“News channels see an increase in TRPs during their election coverage and similarly, with more data being consumed on mobile phones, operators will see the consumption pattern increase by at least 15-20% during the polling season,” said Rohan Dhamija, head of India (South Asia) and Middle East at Analysys Mason.
Vodafone Idea is working with EC in some states to monitor polling stations. It provides SIM cards for GPS tracking of vehicles carrying electronic voting machines and for installation in cameras located at polling booths to stream live video feeds to the Election Commission.
To attract more users to its fold of 415 million-plus customers, Vodafone Idea has introduced special election packs for as low as Rs 19 for 28-day validity, where subscribers can get poll updates and buy party caller tunes. Bharti Airtel has created a special ‘election section’ on its Airtel TV, offering live TV updates, news bulletins, interviews and poll analysis.
In line with wider availability of smartphones in smaller towns and villages, Airtel TV app provides state-wise election updates in regional languages. Reliance Jio has launched Jio News, a mobile application expected to get customers the latest news about the polls from television channels, newspapers and magazines.
“Operators get a lot of visibility by being part of events like elections. Instead of spending more money on marketing campaigns, these are ways in which companies can bring in brand recall. Like sports, elections are the hot service in demand,” said Hemant M Joshi, technology, media and telecommunications leader at Deloitte India.―Business Telegraph