If India’s mobile data (VAS) ecosystem has to grow, then there are two pre-requisites that need to happen:
- a guarantee of Net Neutrality, so that operators cannot arbitrarily block services they believe compete with them
- the operator’s billing platform as a service for a fee of 10% or so, a la Docomo’s i-mode in Japan
Taken together, they can drive innovation like what has been in Japan and some other countries. The first will open up the creation of new services, and the second will give service providers a way to monetise by making available a micropayments infrastructure leveraging the cash balance that mobile users in India already have.
But, who will bell the cat? What India needs is an equivalent of TRAI that focused on the needs and expectations of consumers. This innovation can drive the creation of dozens of startups which is what India needs. Unfortunately, I can’t see that happening anytime in the near future.