Additional non-voice services of mobile operators can be cut off

3 june 2014 | Vedomosti

Russian mobile market is saturated and the competition will only keep growing. Meanwhile the driver of growth is data services. Their volume is growing and operators are now wishing to share the revenues from this sector with content providers. Referring to the opinion of industry experts, “Vedomosti” is writing about the revenue growth of the Russian operators that started in 2010, which seems to be behind the nominal GDP growth and the growth in consumption per household. Prior to the 2008 crisis, Russian telecommunications market grew by 20% per year, but by the end of this year it is expected to grow only by 3%. By the end of last year the number of mobile phone subscribers in Russia reached 250 million people, which represents a penetration rate of more than 170%, and the market is saturated.

Yuri Ammosov
Yuri Ammosov
Adviser to Director General of the Analytical Center

 “Vedomosti” writes that mobile operators are acting as content provider themselves for a long time now. Additional non-voice services (VAS, Value Added Services) have the third place in the provided revenue volume, following voice-services and mobile internet. According to AC&M Consulting, Russian VAS market was estimated at 133 billion rubbles. But the annual increase was only 3% compared to 18% in 2012. 40% of the income provided by VAS services is represented by simple SMS-messages. The rest is different premium (mobile) content. The very idea of ​​mobile content originated in the early 2000s: subscribers were offered pictures and ring tones for their phones, information and entertainment services, etc. This content is offered by partners of mobile operators - content providers, which are given special short numbers. Calls and messages to such numbers are charged more than the usual.

Prospects for mobile content are somewhat hazy due to the spread of smart phones and mobile Internet, which allows access to content directly from the Internet, and due to the numerous gray schemes in this market. According to TelecomDaily agency, 45% of premium content is music and RBT (ring back tones, installed instead of melodies). Despite its attractiveness, RBT service is often connected by operators without the express consent of the subscriber.

The curse of mobile telecommunications industry is mobile fraud of some unscrupulous content providers. But from May 1, anti-fraud legislation measures entered into force (it will however, have a negative effect on mobile operators income).

Adviser to the Director General of the Analytical Center Yuri Ammosov considers that VAS services can be cut off. Their peak was in 2010, when they had the same value for customers as voice services and SMS, - considers the expert. - Their present value to the customers tends to zero, although operators may try stopping this process through the development of mobile payments”.

A slightly decrease in value suffered SMS-messages, but at least, data services acquired the same significance as the voice, considers Mr. Ammosov.