Ericsson and Bharti Airtel sign IN deal for prepaid users

Bharti Airtel has announced that it will deploy Ericsson's intelligent network (IN) solution across all of its 23 circles in India.

“The deal will upgrade Airtel’s network capabilities to enable it to offer realtime charging and flexible bundling options to its large prepaid subscriber base. Approximately 98% of India’s mobile connections are prepaid, and as of September 2012, Airtel had more than 178 million prepaid subscribers.

“The fact that prepaid accounts for the vast majority of connections in emerging markets is hardly breaking news. However, what is significant about this deal is that it underlines the growing importance of data services to prepaid users. Prepaid services are becoming a lifestyle choice in emerging markets rather than an economic necessity. As a result, prepaid users are increasingly demanding access to the same services and user experience as their postpaid counterparts.

“Mobile operators are increasingly finding that offering “sachet” pricing and flexible service propositions to prepaid users will generate significant new revenue streams. In addition, the ability to carry data packages across circles in India will greatly boost usage and accelerate Airtel’s ability to monetize its large 3G and LTE investments. The extension of Airtel’s strategic partnership with Ericsson must be viewed in this context.”