India's Bharti Airtel has launched a new initiative aimed at making it easier for its domestic customers to access the mobile internet for the first time.
The operator's new One Touch Internet service is a WAP portal designed to help acclimatise new internet customers to browsing the mobile web and overcome barriers to entry.
The portal will provide access to services including social networking, online video and e-commerce. It will offer free trial packs to services including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
An account management portal will allow customers to manage and check their balances for voice and data, as well as their trial subscriptions.
One Touch Internet is available for Airtel's 2G and 3G prepaid customers in English and Hindi, and Airtel plans to add support for eight vernacular languages.
“The Indian telecom market has entered a phase of data led growth. As data networks expand and internet enabled devices become affordable – more and more Indians are getting online on their mobile devices,” Bharti Airtel director for consumer business Srinivasan Gopalan said.
“However, our market research has shown that there are millions of customers across the country who own an internet-ready mobile device and are keen on getting online,but are apprehensive due to reasons like lack of know-how and fear of incurring heavy data charges.”
The portal is an attempt to address these reservations, and get more Indians online. Today there are an estimated 220 million internet users, and around 59% of these use the mobile internet. This figure is expected to more than double to 480 million by 2017.