A Study on Choice Criteria and Satisfaction Level of Mobile Phone Service Users in India: A Case Study of Ludhiana City

Sandhir Sharma
Faculty, Dept. of Business Management
Punjab College of Technical Education
Ferozpur Road, Baddowal, Ludhiana–142 021


In the today's business scenario, as competition is tough and ever increasing, it is the service sector which has shown a tremendous growth, particularly in mobile phone service sector. Nowadays, information technology development, particularly in Tele-communication plays an important role in consumption pattern and living style. This research was conducted to determine the choice criteria and satisfaction level of mobile phone service users in Ludhiana city  in Punjab State– so called Manchester of India.


Communication with fellow beings is a necessity as well as an inborn need of human beings. With the passage of time the desire for communicating with fellow beings in far-flung places manifested itself in the discovery of novel modes like pigeons. Telegraph, Morse code and telex followed this. The invention of telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 revolutionized the field of communication. A bigger revolution of much greater magnitude took place about a hundred years later in the form of cellular phone. In the last decade of 20th century when more than 40% of the global workforce is nomadic, always on the move whether on the road, in the air, within the city or country or abroad and traffic is choking up urban arteries. Simultaneously the commercial pace is quickening, forcing executives and businessmen to always stay in touch with office, suppliers, buyers, the markets and associates. The solution is little something called the cellular phone that keeps communication lines open in the welter of chaos, a palm sized electronic gadget that is a panacea of sorts for most of the communication problems. The cellular telephony offers full-featured telephone services to people on the move without any restrictions except the geographic reach of the service they subscribe to. On the other hand, there are many more value added services like recently introduced WAP (Wireless Application Protocol). Through this service customers can access Internet and also send and receive e-mails through their mobile phones without having PC.


The government of India recognizes that the provision of a world-class telecommunications infrastructure and information is the key to rapid economic and social development of the country. It is critical not only for the development of the Information Technology Industry, but also has widespread ramifications on the entire economy of the country. It is also anticipated that going forward, a major part of the GDP of the country would be contributed by this sector. Accordingly, it is of vital importance to the country that there be a comprehensive and forward looking telecommunications policy which creates an enabling framework for development of this industry.

Technology used in Mobile Services

1. Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM)
2. General Packet Radio Services (GPRS)
3. Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)

A Mobile Phone System Structure


    * Spice Communications Limited
    Bharti Mobile Limited "Airtel"
    * Reliance Telecom Limited


1: Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) is a fun packed new service that allows you to exchange multimedia-rich messages. It allows the user to enrich the traditional text message by incorporating it with audio images and other rich content.

2: Web Mail Using Email service, user can access Inbox of any POP3 email system and read emails. Apart from this user can compose (send), reply, forward or delete email messages. User can setup his/her POP3 email accounts to retrieve and manage emails.

3: Itemized/Detailed Billing Provides details of all Local/STD/ISD and roaming voice calls made.

4: Value Roaming lets the user roam the length and breadth of India, at unbelievably low rates. Reliance Value Roaming lets you make and receive calls without any Roaming airtime charges, send and receive SMS, retrieve Voicemails from anywhere outside your home circle all at home tariff plan rates. The user can roam with a single number on a single network across India. Even more, the user can experience the same 24-hour Customer Care Service with a single toll-free number, from anywhere in the country. 

5: International Roaming Communication without boundaries. That's what the wireless world means. And that's exactly what the Reliance IndiaMobile gives. Reliance Infocomm offers GSM International Roaming through the use of a GSM handset and a GSM SIM card or a Removable User Identification Module card (RUIM card). A RUIM card can be used on the Reliance IndiaMobile network with a RUIM Compatible handset - GTRAN or Telson handset.

The world has become a global village. No part is inaccessible. And no country too far. Work or vacationing could take one anywhere. With 325 operators in 170 countries the Reliance IndiaMobile ensures that users stay connected anywhere. However, the coverage with a RUIM Card is currently available in 21 Mobile operators in 18 countries.

6: Voice mail Voicemail service is a personal answering machine that will record messages whenever user is not reachable. The service can be activated to record messages in the following situations:

  • When a user is not reachable (e.g. out of coverage area or phone not switched on) or an incoming call is not answered.
  • When user is busy on another call.
  • Alternatively, when a user divert all incoming calls automatically to the voicemail (not recommendable).

7: Call Waiting Enables the user to receive a second call while he/she is already engaged on one. When this feature is activated, the user will be able to attend all incoming calls without missing any. While the user is talking, a beep and the mobile number of the called party will indicate that a second incoming call is waiting. The (second) caller will get an announcement for 30 seconds.

8: Call Hold Allows the user to put the first call on hold and perform any one of the following functions from your handset. Make a second call. Receive a second call, which is waiting. Check or send a Text message. Check your Voice Mail. Use any other feature of the phone.

9: Call Divert In case the user is unable to take the calls, this service enables user to divert the calls to another phone number or voicemail box (VMS) within the SDCA. When activated the incoming call will land at that particular number (or voicemail box). This feature allows users to make sure that all incoming calls are handled, without missing any.

10: 3-way Call Conferencing A subscriber can connect with two (1+2) persons simultaneously and set up a conference with them using this service. Here the user can include a maximum of three people including himself in a conference at one point of time. Any party can disconnect to drop-off from the conference. However, if the initiator of the conference disconnects then all the parties are disconnected and the conference call ends. Call conference can be done with any number (any service provider).

11: CLIP (Call Line Identification Presentation) This feature enables the user to view the number of the caller on his/her phone. If phone number of the person who has called is stored in the phone book, then the name associated with the number will be displayed on the screen. This service also allows the subscriber to identify missed calls and redial previous calls.

12: CLIR (Call Line Identification Restriction) This feature enables the user you to hold his/her number from being displayed on the phone screen of the person to whom the call is made. This restriction is required when user wants to remain anonymous. When CLIR is activated, instead of your phone number, a message like "Restricted Number" or "Incoming call" will be displayed. Availability of this facility is governed by Government of India regulations. Users who wish to get this facility may please contact their nearest Web World or contact us at 3033 4343. This facility will not be granted automatically and the organization reserves the right to grant this facility only to certain subscribers based on certain fixed criteria.

13: International SMS Enables subscribers to send, receive, reply and forward simple text messages to friends, relatives and business associates across the world.


Theodore Levitt (1974) said that, "We live in an age in which our thinking about a product or service is must be quite different from what it ever was before. It is not so much the basic, generic central thing we are selling that counts, but the whole cluster of satisfaction with which we surrounded it". In this wording he means to say that today to provide complete customer satisfaction we need to have some facilitating and supporting services, which provide our service package a competitive edge. The need is much felt in today's business scenario, as competition is tough and ever increasing.

V n nen-Vainio-Mattila and Ruuska (1998 and 1999) adapted Beyer and Holzblatt's (1998) contextual inquiry (CI) techniques to the study of mobile technology. Using this ethnographic approach, they and other Nokia researchers have gathered information about user needs, behaviors and practices by shadowing users in real situations. They have had success in using these techniques to inform the design of mobile technology.

Christensen et al. (1999) in their study "A methodology Using a Microcamera for Studying Mobile IT usage and Person Mobility" stated that, mobile communication and information technologies have been developing in recent years at an explosive rate, and are presenting exciting possibilities for people to communicate and exchange information regardless of their geographic location. And yet paradoxically, few evaluations of such systems in actual use have been done. Without a deep understanding of how users adapt to IT, technology development proceeds in the dark, with respect to human-computer interaction issues. "Our goal is to understand mobile IT usage, in order to inform the design of mobile systems, and to study social impacts of the technology. Studying mobile IT usage involves two separate aspects: 1) to understand the usage of mobile IT in settings outside the laboratory, which enables us to understand issues such as adoption patterns, problems created by the technology, innovative solutions, and emerging behavioral or work patterns, and 2) to understand person mobility in different settings".

Harper and Taylor (1999) in their paper "Talking 'Activity': young People & Mobile Phones" presented a brief overview of findings collected from an ethnographic field study of young people and their use of mobile telephones. The findings indicate that mobile phones provide young people with a means of demonstrating their social networks. That is, through owning and using mobile phones, young people demonstrate their participation in social groupings and define the boundaries of their social networks. Using activity theory, the findings from this research have been interpreted to produce a number of preliminary design considerations. This work reflects the first of several stages aimed at investigating a systematic means of using rich and meaningful qualitative data for the purposes of design.

Michael Barry (1999) in the study "The Uses And Meaning Of I-Mode In Japan". The article presents a research about mobile phone and the adoption of the "I-mode" (mobile SMS) in Japan, and brings about the mobile phone culture among adolescents and youth in this country, showing in particular how the device is very significant as to the personality build up of its owner. In concrete, the article presents a great variety of ways that there exist to personalize the mobile phone. As to the I-mode in particular, the article shows that it is a system very much adapted to Japanese ways, and that the Japanese people (especially teenagers) have adopted wholeheartedly, that it offers a whole display of services, that they consider it very safe, all of which justifies, in part, the fears that the Japanese people show in relationship to the internet. Through the research it was evident that Japanese mobile phone use and I-mode services are great cultural fits, enormously resonant, satisfying both longstanding and new needs. I-mode has been successful in Japan not because it offers the "Internet" on a mobile phone, but because of its near-perfect fit to a set of communication and cultural needs specific to Japan. In addition      I-mode was built on an already strong platform (the mobile phone).

C.B. Jain (2000) stated that the Short Message Service (SMS) launched by Spice Telecom is evidently running into some teething problems. Many users in the city had expressed their dissatisfaction with the service. SMS allows one to send "short data message" with up to 160 characters from one mobile to any mobile in the country or abroad. Many people are using old handsets which do not allow data messages and many don't know how to operate the service.

Christina James (February 2000) in the research "Designing the next generation of mobile communication" concluded "most of the design effort has been to make phones smaller, more powerful, chock full of more features. This form and function has been targeted at the young, urban, and technologically savvy. This design path is short sighted; we should be designing for a broader market, and increasing the customer base. Instead of just adding more desktop features, we should consider how new mobile device capabilities will let people do new things. And we should challenge ourselves to answer the question: how can our devices improve human capabilities? In preparing ourselves to answer this question there are a number of avenues open to us: Government and industry standards, UI standards and style guides. And of course we have the people for whom we are trying to design".

Eldridge and Grinter (October 2000) in their study "Studying Text Messaging In Teenagers", illustrates several methods used to study mobile users (teenagers, in this case) and provides data to help us understand their text messaging experiences, particularly how and why it provides support for their fundamental need to communicate with friends. This short study has provided some data on why and how teenagers use text messaging. It also provides examples of two methods that can be used to study mobile users: a logging study and discussion groups. Unfortunately for teenagers, and probably for other mobile users as well, direct observation is not feasible. "We discussed this with several of them, and they said there was no way they did want to be followed around and watched while sending messages." Practically this would be difficult, too, since many messages are sent from home (some while in bed and some while in the bath!) or from school.

Jinwoo Kim (2000) made a study on "Analyzing Mobile Internet Users: Results from a monitoring study, an experiment, and a survey study." In this study it was concluded that

the use of cellular phones and Internet has been spread at an astonishing speed than any other information technologies and the high popularity of these two technologies lead up to sharp interests on mobile Internet. Mobile Internet is the usage of Internet via handheld devices such as cellular phones and PDAs.

Ketola and Roykkee (2000) in their research "The Three Facets of Usability In Mobile Handsets" concluded that usability has traditionally been a user interface issue that deals with interaction between a system and a user. Mobile handsets are devices that extend the concept of a system to be more than just one device. They are technically complex devices that need a network and services in order to be useful and usable. In this research they had defined user interface, external interface and service interface as the three conceptual interfaces that user needs while interacting with a mobile handset. For each interface they had defined the specific elements that are part of the interface.

Peter Johnson (2000) in his topic "Mobile Interaction; a resource view" founded that the development of interactive communication technologies as Olsen, 99, has shown, allow us to interact with people and information in a myriad of ways, across different time zones in different geographical locations. The devices we use range from mobile phones, wearable and palm-held devices, embedded devices to room size multi-media environments. With this technological development has come a significant change in the use of computers from being data processing and information storage devices to becoming communication and information gathering devices. The challenges are epitomized by the fact that we are still designing interfaces to a "desk-top" metaphor when the "desk" and "office" are no longer the appropriate context, focus or medium for our communication needs. Moreover, the desktop metaphor is impossible to maintain across the different range of computing devices.

Anthony M. Townsend (2001) in his paper "The Science of Location: Why the Wireless Development Community Needs Geography, Urban Planning, and Architecture" stated that location-based information services have the potential to become the killer app which drives widespread adoption of mobile Internet technologies. Yet, the technology and engineering enterprises driving the development of mobile computing and communications have yet to engage these disciplines and communities in a meaningful way. As a result, applications that effectively and productively bridge the gap between virtual spaces and physical places have been slow to emerge. This position paper argues for an engagement of wireless developers with the professions of location (geography, urban planning, and architecture) whose task it is to understand and design the places in which we live, work, and play.

Fortunati and Magnanelli (2001) in their study "Young People And The Mobile Telephone" concluded the pioneering behavior of adolescents and young people in relation to new technologies, as well as new routes for new generations in the field of self-learning and of transmitting knowledge to other generations, especially adults. However, if we bear in mind the various psychosocial and economic indicators relating to the everyday life of adolescents and young people (unemployment, atypical ways of working, difficulty in emotional relations, etc.), it would seem to be understood that these generations do not manage to use their "know how" of technologies to acquire greater social power. On the contrary, this unheard of capability with its complexity runs the risk of simply becoming a greater, sophisticated social ghetto for them.

Rakesh Gupta (March 12, 2001) in an article entitled "Cellmania Launches m-Enterprise, Plans to Enter WASP Arena." Express Computer reported that Cellmania plans to launch mEnterprise, a mobile commerce, communication and content enabling platform, next month, and is considering entering the Wireless Application Service Provider (WASP) space. Rakesh noted, "The product will appeal to businesses with mobile workforces, such as insurance companies, financial services or consulting firms." Cellmania is also establishing a software development center in New Delhi to focus on mEnterprise development.

Olga Vershinskaya (2001) in his study "Mobile Communication. Use Of Mobile Phones As A Social Phenomenon – The Russian Experience" concluded that Social acceptance of mobile communication by Russian youth is high and growing. The mobile communication era is just evolving in Russia. High rates of penetration are characteristic only for big cities at present. The 89 regions are just taking off. A boom can be seen in the cities - Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The main trends in mobile communication development seem to be universal: young people are the most active users of mobile phones and make up the majority of users; mobile telephony was a luxury at first, but as it becomes less expensive, it is finding its place in the middle class and becomes a necessity. (Specific features of mobile phone use are not on the surface but can be revealed with the help of international comparisons.)

Financial Express (2002) conducted a survey and founded that value plus services – the thoughtful touch that makes AirTel the first choice of many. AirTel offers its customers a wide array of extras that are designed to take care of every need. In keeping with its tradition to constantly innovate, AirTel is the first cellular operator in Punjab to offer its customers a 32K Sim card which would not only provide the customer a large memory but also enable them to accesses a host of SMS services like train information services, gifts, food, travel, hotels, shopping etc. besides the above AirTel also brings you a number of new services on voice, specially selected for Punjabi keeping their lifestyles and requirement in mind. Such as immigration consultation, Gurbani wake-up call, Vet online etc.

S.K. Sinha (2002) stated that Spice Communication, cellular services provider in Punjab has dropped its tariff charges. With a drop of 33 percent in incoming airtimes rates, the mobile phone user will have to pay Rs.1 per minute. The company has also introduced a night slab, called "night hours", where in users would be charged in minimal amount of 25 paise per billing pulse. This new "night hours" tariff will be available to subscribers from 11p.m. to 6 a.m. on both incoming and outgoing airtime.

Sandeep Sudershan (2002) in his topic "Java in Mobile Phone" stated that Wireless Java technology is the intersection of two vast worlds, wireless data communications and the Java platform. Java in mobile phones is widely accepted today vis-à-vis the early days of the mobile revolution. With 250 million Java technology-enabled wireless devices from 31 manufacturers deployed over 75 carrier networks, Java technology seems to be smartly perched in the applications space. The Java framework consists primarily of the Java 2ME (Micro Edition) platform with its API and various tools for application management. This white paper explains the J2ME architecture, various APIs provided, methodology for downloading the applications 'over the air' and various challenges like security, memory requirements etc. faced by the wireless Java world.

Sinha and Sukumar (2002), concluded that "A wire line telephone will become like a wall clock. Every house will have one. But cellular phone will be like a wristwatch. Every one will have one" ; coming as they do from a man who heads India's second largest cellular operator, these words could be constructed as a plug of sorts. But Sunil Mittal's quaint analogy is based, not on hope but on number that his company Bharti Tele-ventures and the entire cellular accept today: 50 million cellular subscribers by 2005. Just to put that number in context: one in every 25 Indians will own a cellular phone by 2005; and achieve this target, the size of cellular industry in the country will double every year for the next four years. The 50 million forecast – and this does not take into account the mobile phones based on Wireless Local Loop (WLL). WLL is the way the Gartner Group's estimate of 30.9 million, but then, even tech consulting firm could not have predicted the curious mix of regulatory, competitive and evolutionary factors that has made 2002, the Indian cellular industry's point of inflexion. Beginning March 2002, the industry will grow at 100 percent every year.

Staffan Bjork (October 2002) in his paper "Activity-Based Mobile Interfaces: Towards a user model for Hybrids between Mobile Phones and PDAs" outlines that the basis for an activity-based view of user interaction on mobile computing devices. PowerCom, a system that provides users with integrated access to the most commonly used types of information on PDAs (contacts, e-mail, meetings, and notes) as well as the advanced call handling functionality found on mobile phones, is used to exemplify some of the requirements for user interfaces that are used in social and collaborative environments.

Quingmiao Hu (April 2003) conducted a research, "Mobile phones change traditional communication", in order to understand how digital media are changing relationships and communications among Japanese youth. In the research it was founded that; more than 95 percent of Japanese students are short message and email (mobile phone with internet access function) users, more than 90 percent of students send over five messages a day, teens send twice as many messages than 20-something, and they send over 70 messages a month per person, youth generally view and reply messages right away, older people read messages at a time that's convenient to them or even wait till the end of the day to read them.

Neil Strother (May 10, 2004) in his topic entitled "Service Provider Strategies for Mobile Devices Operator Priorities, and Competitive Analysis" founded that what do consumers and business users want from their next mobile phones and what will they pay. Consumers say that they prefer mobile phones from the leading manufacturers, but many won't pay more than $100, according to the new report titled "Service Provider Strategies for Mobile Devices: Operator Priorities, and Competitive Analysis." Business users expect to pay slightly more for mid-tier phones ($100 to $200) than consumers, this report notes. This report also highlights these findings: - The one feature most users would pay extra for is extended battery life - Nokia and Motorola remain the strongest brands, with Sony Ericsson and Samsung leading the second-tier pack - Nextel has the highest overall satisfaction rate.

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Sandhir Sharma
Faculty, Dept. of Business Management
Punjab College of Technical Education
Ferozpur Road, Baddowal, Ludhiana–142021

Source: E-mail May 31, 2005


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