Wednesday, January 26, 2011

MTN Nigeria Communications Limited recently in Lagos launched a new product tagged magic number and two other offerings. REMMY NWEKE who was there writes that the game of price war may have begun.

Penultimate week, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited made a show of its latest products with top on the agenda being the unveiling of its ‘Magic number’ and two other products.

The magic number, according to MTN officials, makes it possible for customers on the network to pick a given number of interests for free calls. Also, they launched two other pocket-friendly packages comprising MTN Talk-On and MTN Family and Friends.

These products, MTN said, come with tariff structures that bring true value to over 35 million subscribers on the network.

The Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ahmad Farroukh, who was represented at the occasion by Mr. Bola Akingbade, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, described the triple offer as a change that is coming to every MTN customer which could be experienced in a tangible way.

He explained that the true value inherent in the tariff discount is that every customer could enjoy the unbeatable value of the MTN Magic Number.

“Every customer can make free on-net calls to and from one number for 30 whole days and nights,” he said.

MTN Talk-On, he said, ensures both conversations and purse strings remain unbroken, stressing that this is because it offers the lowest first minute call rate in the market and an incredible 25k per second for the rest of the day.

Equally, he said, for most customers who may want to keep valuable relationships on the front burner, “MTN Family & Friends is just perfect. This is because with MTN Family & Friends, a customer can make calls at 20k per second only to six registered numbers including one international number and one number from another network.”

Farroukh also said that a customer could still take pleasure in free midnight calls to all MTN numbers, noting that there are no hidden charges or access fees of any sort, adding that the trios are offer of a true value for money.

“It means instant connections to your loved ones and call rates that are first-of-a-kind, never-done-before in the history of telecommunications in Nigeria. From absolutely free calls to and from your loved one on-net, to the lowest first minute call rates, you will once again receive from MTN, the value you deserve – transparent rates without hidden charges or access fees,” Farroukh said.

He pointed out that since 2001, MTN has been committed to offering “true value, the kind that enriches your life in tangible ways, the kind that continues to inspire us to set the pace in Nigerian telecommunications as we have done for 10 years now.”

MTN believes, he said, believes that true value also goes beyond offering the lowest rates in the telecoms market.

“True value includes the most extensive nationwide coverage that serves over 35 million Nigerians in 2, 394 cities, towns and villages. It includes the widest 3G network coverage translating to affordable, high-speed internet services wherever business and pleasure take you. It includes 292 CSR projects sites in all 36 states of Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and myriads of sponsorship initiatives in sports, music and several fields of
endeavor,” he said.

Noting that today, it also includes revolutionary tariff plans, underscoring the fact that
revolutionarily they would significantly enrich customers’ treasured relationships and change the face of Nigerian telecommunications once.

Looking back at the inception of MTN in the Nigeria telecommunications scene, the MTN boss reassured customer of improved service delivery.

For lots of industry observers, this triple product launch is the beginning of the journey towards marking its 10th anniversary a favourable one for subscribers on the network with a commitment to always offer this kind of value, the kind that enriches lives and ensures the service that every customer would desire to have.

Speaking further, the Chief Marketing Officer, Bola Akingbade who launched the services on behalf of Ahmad Farroukh, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Magic Number alongside the other true value packages reflect a desire by MTN to enrich the lives of its customers.

Commenting, the company’s General Manager for Business Intelligence, Mr. Ibrahim Abba Gana explained that from the company’s assessment of calling patterns across telecommunication networks, the operator made a number of key findings which it is now converting to benefits for customers.

For instance, he said, the vast majority of subscribers on the network, comprising up to 80 per cent of subscribers do not call for more than a cumulative one minute every day. “That is, counting the entire number of calls they make in a day together with the entire duration of these calls, the vast majority of telephone subscribers do not call for more than one minute in a day, comprising several calls of a few short seconds only,” he said.

He said that this implies that some class of consumers who incidentally make up the bulk of the customer base of telecommunication operators are ordinarily shortchanged by tariff plans which charge them high tariffs in the first minute in enticing them to enjoy subsequent low tariffs.

“A tariff plan for instance that says that you must pay 60 kobo per second for the first minute before you begin to enjoy tariffs of 20 kobo per second will not benefit this customer segment, because their daily calls seldom exceed two minutes anyway,” Baba Gana said.

But for MTN, he said, what would ordinarily benefit this class of telecom consumers to which majority of Nigerians belong is to provide an opportunity to make calls at very low rates right from the onset of the call, from the moment the call is initiated.

Additionally, Abba Gana said, in considering the calling patterns, MTN had discovered that for most consumers, there are particular numbers to which calls are made on a consistent basis over a long period.

He cited another instance by saying that a man may make regular calls to his wife or partner and vice versa over a consistent period. Indeed such calls, he said, qualify to be a special one which could be made enjoyable with cheaper call rates or entirely free which MTN has chosen.

The Magic Number, MTN officials said is a reflection of the need to add genuine value to customers’ lives by providing them with an avenue to keep in touch with people who are special in their lives at practically no cost.

On how the Magic Number works, he explained that subscriber simply registers the number of the one special person in his life, beginning with the payment of an access fee of N250 and for one month, he or she is able to call that special person for free.

Literally, what this means is that such a person paid only N250 for a one-month call.

Besides, Baba Gana pointed out that special person would be able to call the other for free in the course of the whole month, despite the fact that both subscribers enjoy the free calls benefits of the Magic Number, only one subscriber needs to pay the token access charge of N250.

He emphasised that Magic Number will help to forge closer family affinity in providing people with a means by which to remain connected to each other, freely.

It was not entirely surprising that Magic Number, few days after is eliciting a lot of excitement among telecom consumers in the country.

On MTN’s Family and Friends, officials said at the occasion that this avails customers to simply identify a total of six special numbers, with each of these numbers; the originator would be able to make a call at 20 kobo per second from the very first second of his call.

Out of the six numbers, four should be MTN numbers, and one international number as well as a number from another network. Noteworthy is that at 20 kobo per second an equivalent of N12 per minute, this offer looks very enticing and qualifies lately as very cheapest call rate in the Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications sector in MTN network in recent times.

Though other operators have proclaimed a 20 kobo per second tariff, this only begins to apply after the first minute, which entails that calls are charged at about 60 kobo per second.

Nevertheless, as it is now obvious, the majority of subscribers do not spend more than one minute on the phone on a daily basis and so may actually be victims of a shortchange at the moment.

While customers on MTN’s Family and Friends tariff plan could enjoy themselves with the Magic Number, thereby bringing the number of available relations to engage to seven.

On the third new package which operator named MTN Talk On, which implies it was designed for the upper echelons of the society; people who need to use their phones at length on a daily basis.

In the MTN Talk On, subscribers enjoy a 50 kobo per second tariff for the first minute and thereafter 25 kobo per second. Again subscribers who subscribe to this offer also enjoy the benefit of the Magic Number., which they could choose a Magic Number each month, pay a N250 access charge and call and be called for free from that number for a month.

As we journey into the 10th year of telecom revolution in the country, the expectation has continued to rise from telecom operators as competitors consistently find avenues of bringing tariffs on downward slope.

The bottom line is that which way one may be looking at it, customers’ better days are just nearby.

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