Business - India;Come '09,Airtel to offer single bill
Come 2009, Bharti Airtel customers will no longer be confronted with multiple bills. Bharti Airtel, along with IBM and its other IT partne rs, is working on the concept of a single bill for customers using its varied services such as mobile, fixedline, internet, DTH and IPTV.At a later stage, Bharti would also give its customers the option of a single bill across its three screens - the mobile phone, computer and TV. “The project to have a single bill is underway and should be in place by 2009. We are already doing trial runs in some circles,” Bharti Airtel CEO and joint MD Manoj Kohli told ET. According to him, the concept of a ‘common bill’ has several challenges. “Taxes are different across services. For instance, in telecom, we pay a certain percentage of our gross revenue to the government. This is different for DTH and internet services. We must therefore ensure that we are 100% compliant on the technology and regulatory sides,” he added. Bharti Airtel telemedia services president Atul Bindal said the company may go a step further than the concept of a ‘single bill’. In the near future, Bharti was examining the possibility of adding a SIM card to the set-top-box to allow its customers to pay their bills and also buy products and services through the TV screen. In fact, Bharti already offers its mobile users the option of making payments through their handsets. Besides, Bharti’s DTH service, which was launched on Tuesday, also allows subscribers to book movie tickets on the TV screen. According to an industry analyst, Bharti has an integrated back-end. Put simply, IBM provides IT support for mobile, DTH, internet and other services. Similarly, its customer service system is common across all platforms. Additionally, Bharti’s $100-million service delivery platform has also gone live. This will enable the company to offer all services related to content, messaging and application through the single platform to all its customers, irrespective of whether they use Airtel’s mobile, landline, DTH or broadband services. Adding another dimension, Mr Bindal said that customers using Bharti’s portfolio of services are less likely to shift to another player. “If a customer uses our services, the possibility of churn is much lower. This in turn increases the average revenue per user (ARPU),” he added.