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Travellers alight with custom mobile comms

April 28, 2022

Jignesh Dave   

Founder and CEO, Next360

In this topical blog, Jignesh Dave, Founder and CEO of Next360 in South Africa, explains his strategy of using the Tata Communications MOVE™ platform to customise travellers’ mobile services – ready for use in their destination country – even before they board their planes.

Travel and tourism looks set for a resurgence as the pandemic seems likely to recede while the UK-India Free Trade Agreement – The UK’s Strategic Approach  observed Indians are the second largest international student population in the UK. With the Indian government aiming to create a trillion-dollar online economy by 2025, the free trade agreement offers an opportunity for British and Indian businesses to launch joint tech ventures.

Against that background and the movement of people implied, Next360 chose to address this opportunity through NextCellular, our mobile services subsidiary which runs a multi country MVNO operation, with its global headquarters in South Africa, offering seamless connectivity, with capability to provide both eSIM & Plastic SIM cards in other parts of the world.

Tata Communications MOVE ensures global reach and unparalleled scalability

Our company has network capabilities in 31 countries including three continents, and a distribution footprint in India, the UK, and South Africa – along with expansion plans for south-east Asia. To streamline mobile comms for those coming from India, South Africa, and other growth economies, our vision is to make it simple for those global travellers by providing roam-free connectivity with distribution at the core. It’s enormously convenient for such worldwide citizens to have a SIM card local to the target country before traveling.

“Through NextCellular, we teamed up with Tata Communications to take advantage of its Tata Communications MOVE SIM Connect platform. It offers scalability and global reach across multiple countries through agreements with over 600 mobile network operators (MNOs) in 190 countries and territories.”

Our intent is first to offer people seamless connectivity when they’re travelling. Second, it’s to explore and evaluate potential markets so that we can, in effect, turn airtime into a currency and create more value for our customers by offering them both roam free connectivity and digital banking.

The third thrust is to create a powerful Infrastructure, which would turn our cellular ecosystem into an Uber of telecommunications by offering Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) to airlines, destination management companies, tour operators, travel insurance companies in the business segment, and players like financial services providers, last mile retailers or micro-lenders in the domestic business segment.

Complementary technology and marketing strengths

As well as using that ecosystem to spool bandwidth, the Tata Communications MOVE™ platform offers: (1) BYON (bring your own network) functionality; (2) enabling facilities including core network and BSS (business support system); and (3) branded SIMs to make it easy for new partners to join and make use of Next360 IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service).

Tata Communications also brings network aggregation, allowing NextCellular to offer seamless connectivity in the UK and enabling roaming across the EU, while providing IMSI (international mobile subscriber identifier) number ranges.

“The partnership is vitally important in defining our way forward. With Tata Communications we have a dependable enabler for the state-of-the-art technology needed to allow us to provide seamless connectivity. That complements NextCellular strengths of distribution knowhow for subscriber acquisition, creating and providing market-fit products, demand creation, and expansion planning.”

In the Indian market, which falls under our travel business segment, our core distribution channels are travel, study abroad & visa processing agencies, airport kiosks and wholesale, bulk, & digital sales. This strong distribution network ensures our reach and penetration to the entire traveling customer segment, including leisure, business, economic migrant, and MICE [meetings incentives, conferences, and exhibitions].

Acting as a super-flexible backbone

NextCellular-branded SIM cards are provisioned on the Tata Communications MOVE™ platform using their best in the industry agreements with different MNOs. That allows Next360 to operate as both service provider and reseller.

Under this arrangement we own billing and distribution and, with flexible access to our own Tata Communications MOVE™ portal, it allows us to understand consumer behaviour in terms of business intelligence like usage pattern and consumption motives. That allows us to personalise the service while consumers are away from home. That data integrates with our billing and CRM software, and helps us plan the network and dimension of our POPs.

In other words, the Tata Communications MOVE™ platform acts as a backbone for the whole operation, while Next360 runs activities like customer onboarding. A single Tata Communications managed service and troubleshooting model means users don’t have to go anywhere else for service. Also, they manage the customer lifecycle and enable different packages such as pricing and what networks customers can roam on, which allows limitless landmass coverage in defined countries and geographies.

Beautifully crafted model offers instant mobile connectivity

“The Next360 model’s beauty is the minute the traveller sets foot on British soil they’re connected, ready to go on one of the best mobile networks in the UK.”

Even better, they don’t have to fiddle with manually choosing a network. They’ve got ready-to-use plans, set up as part of the onboarding process, which include pre-paid bundles, pre-set roaming rights, and pre-configured settings.

With the likelihood people will once more adopt optimistic outlooks when it comes to travel, we are also gearing up for revenge travel to surpass all previous records in terms of inventory planning. To begin with, that’s being placed in Indian and South African markets, where subsequent orders are already being triggered.

This multi-year strategic alliance with Tata Communications means we will become the preferred roam-free connectivity brand for travellers. We’ll do that by not only focusing on current distribution channels, but also looking at innovative ways of aligning ourselves with major global events.

Today and tomorrow, the sky’s the limit

The key differentiator for Next360 is that Tata Communications MOVE™ provides a fully-fledged global offer rather than bits and pieces of networks here and there. Double-digit month-on-month growth is definitely on the cards.

“As well as a robust and secure network, Next360 attains future readiness from Tata Communications.”

For example, eSIM availability with QR codes for network acquisition and changes, and eKYC functionality for lifelong identity and assured cybersecurity. Also, working with Tata Communications offers relationships with other telcos to help us scale in new regions like south-east Asia and other emerging markets.

To learn more about Tata Communications MOVE, please click here.