Article by Natraj Akella, Head of Growth at i2e1 – Delhi based startup which is India’s first PM WANI compliant Wi-Fi Company
In the fast-paced world, we live in, businesses and brands across all categories & sizes are constantly competing to win the top spot and the heart of the consumers. How do we set ourselves apart? What is it that will differentiate our offerings? These are some questions that each brand asks itself. This holds very true for the service industry too, especially industries which are aiming to provide necessities such as internet. The solution here is to profitably keep the consumer and their needs at the core of all decision making. Like Amazon does.
The moment a service, like internet or Wi-Fi, is perceived and conceived as an infrastructure the consumer element disappears. It becomes commoditized, very much like water, electricity, roads etc. Here, consumer needs, preferences, choices take a back seat in the overall larger narratives. Engineering and commercial elements such as cost per MB, feasibility network congestion, speeds, etc. take precedence in market planning and network design stage. Actually, ARPU and Data usage are the closest attributes representing a consumer in these advanced planning models inducing a digital divide by design. So, what about the connectivity for online classes for children in lower-income areas in the current COVID infused world?
Whereas, the design philosophy could be like the Taj Expressway with consumer preferences like travel time and safety, being kept in mind. A 6-lane, 165 km long, access-controlled expressway, designed specifically keeping the end-users in mind, for their speed and safety: no stray cows, tractors, speed breakers etc. Or like Amazon. Everything is aligned to customer success. You actually get a call back from their customer service within a minute instead of waiting endlessly ?
Therefore, internet service providers, with support from the government, must focus on a more inclusive and consumer-centric model, where elements in mind such as market need, affordability and sustainability, keeping the consumer at the center of design and making the existing broadband ‘infrastructure’ more intelligent and market-centric at the last mile. After all, the internet is a new essential service and a public good.
It is great to see that this is exactly how the PM WANI initiative is designed. By de-bundling and unleashing the power of multiple ecosystems such as start-ups, apps, developers, small businesses, ISPs, service aggregators and at the same time, giving the power of choice to the consumers, to ensure proliferation of digital services to people who actually need it. Bringing alive the phrase – Consumer is the King, is the only way for such a model to succeed.