OTT messaging partnership boosts data usage for Aircel

One of the largest operators in India has seen a marked rise in data usage since joining forces with an over-the-top messaging provider. Indian number six Aircel has registered an increase of up to 25% in the Jammu & Kashmir regions, where it has entered into a promotional partnership with messaging app Nimbuzz.

Aircel’s head for the J&K region, Sundeep Talwar, said: “Jammu & Kashmir is a highly regulated market where SMS services are unavailable, so our focus is on data. In the 15 days after the launch of Nimbuzz, data usage from our users in J&K went up by 25%.”

The app was downloaded by 5000 subscribers in its first 15 days of availability; the next few weeks will likely see the Nimbuzz service expanded to Delhi, with India’s north-eastern states receiving it in May.

It is becoming increasingly common for operators in India to incorporate OTT services into their offering: major players Airtel and Reliance have entered into agreements with Facebook, and the latter operator also has an agreement with WhatsApp.

Ovum analyst Neha Dharia noted: “In 2012, operators were essentially fighting the rising popularity of free messaging apps, but towards the end of the year they realised that they cannot compete so they might as well tie up and offer subscription packages.”

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