Comviva (formerly Bharti Telesoft) is in talks with several telecom service providers, including group company Bharti Airtel, to launch a SIM (or Subscriber Identity Module) card that allows up to 10 users to share the same mobile phone with their own specific numbers.
The technology requires the user to dial a given number from the specific mobile phone and activate the SIM though a password. Once that is done, the user can receive and make calls and even recharge the account through a pre-paid coupon.
Comviva hopes to sell the technology to operators and launch the services by the end of this year. “The technology will help operators increase penetration in the rural markets and increase their revenues,” said Comviva CEO Manoranjan Mohapatra.
Rural teledensity in the Indian mobile market stands at just 20 per cent, compared with an urban teledensity of 95 per cent, suggesting wide scope for expansion.
Comviva has already tied up with South African mobile giant MTN, with which Bharti has held two rounds of unsuccessful talks for a merger, to sell the technology in developing markets.
MTN has already launched the multiple SIM in Cameroon and has acquired 30,000 new users as a result.
Mohapatra said the technology dramatically reduces the cost of ownership for a mobile connection and would also be useful as community phones in villages. The cheapest branded mobile costs at least Rs 1,000.