Additional Spectrum Needed to Ensure India Builds on Momentum; Affordability Key to Long-Term Mobile Broadband Growth and Social and Economic Prosperity
3 April 2012, New Delhi: The GSMA today announced that India will become the second largest Mobile Broadband1 market globally within the next four years with 367 million Mobile Broadband connections by 2016. In doing so, India will overtake the US, which will account for 337 million Mobile Broadband connections by 2016, but will still be second to China, which will have reached 639 million Mobile Broadband connections in the same period.
Since 3G licenses were first awarded to mobile operators in India in September 2010, Mobile Broadband connectivity has grown steadily. There are now more than 10 million HSPA connections across the country, and this is expected to grow exponentially, by 900 per cent, to more than 100 million connections in 2014. This will make India the largest HSPA market worldwide within the next two years, surpassing China, Japan and the US in the process.
“The mobile industry in India is set for immense growth as Mobile Broadband technologies such as HSPA and LTE start to proliferate, but there is scope for far greater development,” said Anne Bouverot, director general of the GSMA. “To take full advantage of this, the Indian government should facilitate the timely release of additional spectrum in a fair and transparent way for all stakeholders. The benefits are clear to see – a 10 per cent increase in Mobile Broadband penetration could contribute as much as US$80 billion (INR 3,506 billion) of revenue across the country’s transport, healthcare and education sectors by 20152.”
Affordability a Prerequisite to Long Term Growth in India
According to a recent study3 by the GSMA’s Wireless Intelligence service, despite a large rural population, mobile growth in India is being largely driven by more affluent communities in cities. Net additions in urban areas reached 85 million last year compared to 57 million in rural areas, with mobile penetration increasing by 20 percentage points in urban areas to 161 per cent, against a 6.5 percentage point rise in rural areas to 36.6 per cent.
The provision of Mobile Broadband in rural and remote areas will help India bridge the so-called “digital divide”. It will improve productivity, help overcome the constraints of transport infrastructure and provide much needed services such as banking, health and education. Given the significant social and economic benefits, expanding affordable access to Mobile Broadband should be a high priority of the Indian government.
According to Wireless Intelligence, with an average retail price of US$500, the cost of an LTE smartphone is four times the average monthly GDP per capita in India, and at an average of US$200, the retail price of an LTE USB dongle is twice an Indian’s monthly income on average4. As LTE networks proliferate worldwide and more devices become available, costs will come down. Initiatives like the introduction of the low cost Aakash tablet in India are helping spur widespread access to the Internet in emerging markets, but more can be done.
“It is important that all citizens in India have access to high-speed Internet connectivity and the transformative opportunities it provides,” continued Ms. Bouverot. “The current average cost of an LTE device is prohibitive for the uptake of Mobile Broadband for those on low incomes. The GSMA is committed to working with its mobile operator members to investigate innovative ways in which to make access to the mobile Internet more affordable for all.”
The GSMA today also announced it has opened a permanent office in New Delhi and recently made two new hires: Sandeep Karanwal, head of GSMA’s India office, and Nitin Sapra, the GSMA’s manager for spectrum and regulation policy in India. Ms. Bouverot continued, “It is an exciting time to launch our new office, as India is an increasingly critical market for the mobile industry, both commercially and in policy terms, through its influence throughout Asia Pacific and the world.”
Supporting Operator Quotes
“India is taking great strides towards the uptake of data and already has the third largest Internet subscriber base in the world with more than 100 million users, and the second largest Facebook subscriber base in the world with 43 million users,” said Sanjay Kapoor, CEO – India & South Asia, Bharti Airtel. “Various studies have shown that a 10 per cent increase in mobile penetration could lead to 1 per cent increase in GDP, and a 10 per cent increase in Mobile Broadband penetration could deliver a 1.4 per cent increase in GDP. Along with 2G and 3G, when 4G is deployed, India will be at the forefront of cutting-edge Mobile Broadband provision globally. We are delighted to work with GSMA to help expedite this phenomenal growth and deliver Mobile Broadband to every corner of India.”
“In the decade and half since the launch of mobile services, the spin-offs for India and its people have been tremendous. GDP growth rates have increased, thanks in large measure to the empowering effects of mobile telephony. India is now poised on the cusp of another tectonic shift – but this can only happen if more harmonised spectrum is released, ensuring high-speed broadband connectivity is available at reasonable rates, which will allow India to bridge the telephony divide and join the ranks of the growing Mobile Broadband ecosystem,” said Mr Himanshu Kapania, Managing Director, Idea Cellular.
“Mobile Broadband, which is emerging as one of the strong growth areas in the Indian telecommunications sector, can contribute significantly to the social agenda of bridging the digital divide,” said Mr Srinath Narasimhan, Managing Director of Tata Teleservices Limited. “As newer technologies and faster data speeds become available, affordable next-generation devices in various form factors – supporting an ever-growing list of lifestyle-impacting applications, services and solutions – will be key to this growth. We will continue to work closely with device and solution players worldwide, and with the GSMA, to create the right and enabling ecosystem to successfully take the data story forward.”
“We have experienced the rapid growth of mobile communications in India and its vast socio-economic impact. Our perspective is that further Mobile Broadband proliferation can be achieved most rapidly and affordably through data services on 2G, in combination with 3G and LTE. Continued investment, however, depends on a stable and predictable regulatory environment as well as the availability of spectrum,” said Jon Fredrik Baksaas, President and CEO, Telenor Group.
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Notes to Editors
1Mobile Broadband technologies: WCDMA, HSPA, LTE, TD-LTE, TD-SCDMA, CDMA2000 1X EV-DO – Wireless Intelligence, April 2012
2GSMA and Analysis Mason, August 2011
3Wireless Intelligence: Urbanisation driving growth in BRIC countries
4Wireless Intelligence: Global LTE network forecasts and assumptions – one year on
About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators, as well as more than 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment organisations. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as the Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo.
For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at www.gsma.com or Mobile World Live, the online portal for the mobile communications industry, at www.mobileworldlive.com
About Wireless Intelligence
Wireless Intelligence is the definitive source of mobile operator data, analysis and forecasts, delivering the most accurate and complete set of industry metrics available. With 8 million individual data points – updated daily – the service provides coverage of the performance of all 950 operators and 800 MVNOs across 3,500 networks, 55 groups in 236 countries.
Nupur Chandra (India)
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