Uninor to rope in auto drivers, milkmen to sell SIMs, recharge

Uninor to rope in auto drivers, milkmen to sell SIMs, recharge New Delhi: Fresh from winning back telecom licences, Norway's Telenor aims to become India's fourth- largest operator by coupling its "sabse sasta" pricing with door-step delivery of SIM cards and mobile phone recharge using milkmen, newspaper delivery boys and auto-rickshaw drivers.

"Our ambition is to look ourselves at number 4 or 5 position wherever we are. By end of this year if we achieve this, I will be very happy," Uninor's Chief Executive Officer Yogesh Malik said in an interview.

Telenor's India unit, which operates under the brand name Uninor, feels innovations are needed to grab a pie of the overcrowded telecom market, which according to research firm Gartner, will touch Rs 1.2 lakh crore in revenues this year.

Malik, who took over as CEO on May 1, said the company is about to gain 8 percent market share in terms of subscriber number in each of the six circles -- UP East, UP West, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Uninor, which last year won spectrum to offer mobile phone services in six of the 22 telecom services areas for Rs 4,018 crore, is focusing on breaking even by 2013-end, Malik said.

To begin with, Uninor has trained auto-drivers in Pune to enroll new customers and sell recharge vouchers.

Malik said: "The project has kicked off with 10 auto rickshaws in Pune as a pilot. This number will soon be scaled up to 40 such auto-rickshaws. Monthly income of the auto driver is around Rs 2,500 with about 50-60 transactions a month. Uninor plans to launch 1,000 auto recharge vehicles in five or six cities across Maharashtra over the next 6 months."

This go-to-customer strategy may be replicated eventually in all the six circles.

Uninor has started a pilot project for using milkmen and newspaper vendors as its retail channel as well.

"We just want to make things available for customers and let him decide where he wants to do business. Milkmen visits the house every day or newspaper vendor in the morning. This project is currently underway at localities in Pune. He can make some extra money by just selling the recharge at the door," Malik said.

The company had 3.17 crore subscriber at the end of February, 2013 as per sectoral regulator TRAI.

PTI