“Free voice-call service is not a threat but telecoms’ revenue generator,” says Airtel CEO


With the recent roll-out of free voice calls from the messenger services like Hike, WhatsApp, Viber etc, the telecom companies are getting wary about these app taking their portion of earning. But Bharti Airtel’s Kavil Mittal says that its vice-versa as such service can actually give opportunity to earn more revenue.

voice call apps

Incidentally, Hike is a joint venture of Japan’s Softbank Corp and Bharti Enterprises, which is run by telecom czar Kavin Mittal. Bharti Enterprise which owns country’s giant mobile operator service Bharti Airtel was once very critical about the messenger services that offered free voice-over-internet calls and other services that are known as OTT (Over-The-Top) services. Also, It had recently proposed to charge extra for voice calls made through phone internet with Skype, Viber but dropped the plans following the uproar on social media.

But now, Kavin Mittal strongly believes that it’s certainly not a threat as the market thinks it to be. But he says, its other way around as the people are getting more data packs which thereby opens up a brand new fat revenue-generating stream. He also says it is a win-win situation.

He also states, that despite the 4G networks and high-end 3G networks around the globe, customers are still buying voice minutes. Talks about cannibalization happened for messages too, but it not make a major impact, so the same is expected for voice too. So services like Hike, YouTube, Facebook would drive people to buy more internet data generating earnings for the telecoms, says Mittal.

The data growth is close to 100% per year for the telecom operators and it contributes to a great amount in the topline revenues.

With regard to his recent service in Hike, Mittal says, more than half a million calls were made in 12 hours from the launch of voice calls on Hike. Also the company has improved the technology so  much that enable their customers speak for 4-5 minutes per MB on 2G. He states that 2G calling is normal calling while calling via 3G/ Wi-Fi is HD calling.

Mittal aims to reach a target of more than 100 million through their company by early next year, and he says voice calling service would serve as a helping hand to reach the milestone quicker.

Competing with global players like WhatsApp and Viber, Hike, which was launched in December 2012, has a fairly young user base with around than 35 million users and has raised $86 million from Tiger Global till date.