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Now, Bharti Airtel eyes revenue from competitors’ networks as well

Bharti Airtel, the country’s largest cellular operator with more than 200 million subscribers, is now seeing to tap consumers outside its own network with an over-the-top (OTT) application.

The Sunil Mittal-led company on Tuesday, launched Wynk — a music application developed by Bharti Airtel in partnership with Bharti SoftBank. The app is expected to become an alternative revenue stream for the company as Bharti Airtel increase focus ondata revenues.

This is the first time any cellular operator has launched an across-operator music app which will also be platform-agnostic. However, instant messaging application Hike is owned by Bharti Enterprises and Bharti SoftBank, and is open for all networks and devices. Bharti Enterprises partly owns Bharti Airtel.

Wynk, which has a collection of 1.7 million songs in eight languages, will be advertisement free and Bharti Airtel will generate revenue from subscriptions and downloads. As the initial launch price it will be available at Rs 99 on Android, Rs 60 on iOS and Rs 29 for Airtel customers. Streaming is free of cost, but users will have to pay the data charges. Downloading a song would cost Rs 5 that includes data charges.

Bharti Airtel earlier offered music services through Airtel Music as a value added service. Bharti Airtel’s Wynk will primarily compete with other music apps like Gaana, Saavn, Nokia’s online music store and Apple’s iTunes. Universal is one of the partners for Bharti Airtel’s Wynk.

“We will share part of revenue generated from the music streaming and downloads. However, the key here is that these initiatives will reduce piracy,” said Srinivasan Gopalan, director (consumer business), Bharti Airtel. However, he declined to give details on how much the company will pay to the content providers like Universal.

Caller tune, which just a small part of the telecom company’s revenue from value-added services (VAS), contributes about 20 per cent of a telecom operator’s VAS revenue. VAS accounts for about 18 per cent of a teleco’s service revenue. Mobile data contributed 12.4 per cent (a 74 per cent growth against the comparable period) of Bharti Airtel’s total India revenue in the quarter ended June 30, 2014.

According to experts, the music industry gets about 30 per cent of teleco’s revenue collection from caller tunes. According to data available with the Department of Telecommunications, Bharti Airtel earned Rs 2,088 crore from caller tunes in three years ended March 2012. Gopalan said Wynk combined with data schemes will drive growth and will get a boost once Airtel use its physical distribution network to get more users.

According to studies, a person spends about 30 full days (24 hours a day) in a year listening to music. Of this, about 90 per cent is on mobile devices, said Anand Chandrasekharan, chief product officer (consumer business), Bharti Airtel. Chandrasekharan is part of the team that developed Wynk.

About a dozen of developers spent a little more than six months to develop Wynk. There may bemore such applications from Bharti’s stable in the coming months.

“Globally, there are six verticals that drive data consumption. Gaming, videos, e-commerce could be the areas where we may focus,” said Gopalan. The move would eventually get Airtel ready with services that would be suitable for fourth generation (4G) networks.

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