U MOBILE AIMS TO CHANGE THE GAME
By and large, the major telcos delineate and demarcate their customer demographics into either prepaid or postpaid solutions with a pricing structure that strongly encourages users to sign up for postpaid plans for cheaper data and voice calls or otherwise incur costlier calls and data on prepaid. U Mobile, the fourth largest and youngest telco in Malaysia aims to change the ballgame, quite literally, by levelling the playing field and rendering, as they put it, what is essentially a payment scheme moot by offering superior service regardless if you pay up front or after the fact.
In a special media briefing in Port Dickson, U Mobile CEO Mr. Wong Heang Tuck talked about U Mobile’s current position as well as to showcase the new range of prepaid and postpaid plans that the company has slated for 2015. Consisting of the UMI 20, UMI 30 and UMI 50 prepaid plans and the P50 and P70 plans collectively dubbed as #GetClever which are available as of February, the new plans offer the lowest call rates, a 50% larger mobile data allocation and other more competitive benefits. The new plans aim to challenge the existing status quo with innovative rates and benefits as well as more streamlined and clear-cut plans. Additional plans will be launched later on in the year.
He was pleased at their current growth so far, ”In 2014, we crossed the RM one billion dollar mark in revenue despite flattish performance in the market. To give you a sense of where we came from, we grew from a subscriber base of less than 20,000 users to more than 4 million today. We did quite well.”
This success was due in part to last year’s efforts in obtaining more subscribers via offering attractive incentives to port over such as a free 250MB of data for a year in addition to an aggressive Vision 2 Million programme that promised free on-net calls and free data should should U Mobile achieve a target of two million new subscribers before the end of the year. This was achieved and granted to all prepaid and post paid users on 18th December 2014. “As promised, we gave one day of unlimited calls and data free and we achieved it two weeks before the deadline.”
“Not many telcos would attempt to do that because the loading on the network will be tremendous but our network withstood the surge,” said Mr. Wong . U Mobile’s newer and younger network infrastructure worked in their favour as their hardware, rather than having to handle legacy issues, was able to handle the load off the bat. “The network didn’t collapse so we did quite well,” he quipped.
He also elaborated on U Mobile’s plans announced last year to introduce more comprehensive coverage in the form of an additional 1000 3G and 1000 4G LTE towers to be placed nationwide with an assurance of the completion of towers by end 2015 with current efforts being on schedule and on target.
For the coming year, U Mobile aims to spearhead efforts by concentrating on several key efforts. “We will maintain our aggressive marketing approach by being a true marketing leader by being more relevant to our subscribers,” said Mr. Wong. Earlier marketing efforts to woo subscribers have resonated well, such as U Mobile’s free 50MB of data when roaming overseas with most of U Mobile’s subscriber base, nearly 90% consisting of prepaid customers and dominated by users aged 15-35 years of age and who are teenagers up to those getting their first job up to middle executives. “We went ahead with prepaid international roaming with an initial free 50MB and this was positively received. We will continue pushing out more products and services that are relevant.”
A second prong of their marketing efforts is the increase in the number of contact points to acquire U Mobile top-ups and plans in addition to increasing the number of dealers. “In terms of the number of dealers, we are on par with Digi and the additional edge we have is that we can leverage off our group strengths such as pushing our products at 7-11 chain stores,” said Mr. Wong. He also added that the the brand will also explore additional device bundling options and new products in the coming year.
Mr Wong also commented on the upcoming implementation of GST and how it would affect billing and costs to consumers. “It’s not as simple as it looks as it consists of a whole value chain. We have to look at GST as a whole and there is currently no consensus on it at the moment (among the telcos) but in a couple of months we should have a consensus.” For more information on U Mobile and their new plans swing by www.u.com.my