- One device holds up to 3 numbers, first such service in Asia Pacific
- But service limited to XL customers and numbers only
INDONESIA’S No 3 telecommunication provider PT XL Axiata Tbk, owned by Malaysia’s Axiata Group Bhd, has partnered with Canada’s BlackBerry Ltd to launch a multi-number mobility service in Indonesia.
The Novi service was launched in Jakarta earlier this month, and is the first service in Asia Pacific that allows a mobile subscriber to have up to three phone numbers on one SIM card, by using virtual SIM technology.
“This service serves a purpose and caters to a need,” XL chief brand and customer experience officer Nicanor V. Santiago said in an official statement.
“Customers in Indonesia want to be able to operate multiple mobile numbers on one device,” he added.
Novi uses BlackBerry’s virtual SIM platform, which is hosted on its infrastructure. According to its product management vice president Timothy Choi, the virtual SIM platform is integrated into the operator’s network.
“Indonesia is a very important market for BlackBerry, and the idea behind Novi is to deliver services that truly meet customer needs.
“We will continue to work with carriers around the world to bring our solution to their markets,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) via email.
Choi said that currently, the service in Indonesia is an exclusive partnership with XL, and therefore dedicated to XL subscribers using SIM cards acquired from the telco.
When asked what models support the service, he said it is available to any smartphone on any operating system, as well as all kinds of feature phones.
How it works
To use the service, Android and iOS users would need to download the Novi app from their respective app stores. Others, including feature phone users, can activate the service through a USSD (unstructured supplementary service data) menu browser by pressing *909# on the dial.
Once this is done, subscribers can add their primary mobile number to the Novi system, then register a mobile profile to add their new virtual mobile numbers.
Subscribers can choose the type of virtual number: A standard package with random numbers chosen by the system; a regular package where they can choose from a set of numbers provided by system; or a premium package where they are given a “nice set” of mobile numbers from the system, according to BlackBerry.
In Indonesia, there are highly-sought after numbers that can be priced at up to US$1,000.
The additional virtual numbers will be active once subscribers pay the monthly fee: Rp6,000 (US$0.40) for the standard package; Rp15,000 (US$1.10) for the regular package; and Rp30,000 (US$2.20) for the premium package.
XL’s recent Investor Document shows that its monthly average churn rate – customers switching to other operators – for the past two years has not improved: 16.5% and 16.7% in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
According to the telco, a large majority of prepaid subscribers in Indonesia have more than one SIM card, which sees them dividing their telco spending between two or more carriers.
Currently, XL has a total user base of 42.5 million, of which only 500,000 are postpaid users.
While prepaid users dominate XL’s user base, revenue per SIM card is only Rp38,000 (US$2.90), compared with the Rp116,000 (US$8.70) revenue per subscriber it is getting from its postpaid user base.
In its report, the telco noted that it needs to either keep getting new subscribers; or keep existing subscribers sticky with good products, services, and innovations.
As part of this effort, it kicked off its Revamp, Rise, and Reinvent (3R) transformation programme in the beginning of 2015.
‘Revamp’ involves shifting subscriber acquisition to postpaid; ‘Rise’ involves moving the XL brand up the value ladder and addressing different segments of the market in a dual-brand strategy with the lower-value Axis brand; while ‘Reinvent’ looks at going beyond today’s business models.
Trimegah Securities, in a Company Focus research report, said that XL’s Revamp strategy on getting quality subscribers had a positive impact in 2015. Despite a dip in overall subscriber numbers, the losses were mainly low-revenue customers, according to XL.
The securities firm predicted that the trend of declining subscribers will continue, but argued that this would bring positive growth to XL in the near future.
In February, XL kicked off its Revamp strategy with the re-launch of its XL Prioritas (Bahasa Indonesia) postpaid service, offering premium data-centric plans to subscribers.
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