Should 4G become more affordable to grow subscribers?

Mobile data revenue overtakes voice income
NK Yadav, member Services, Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Government of India, said that mobile data services should become more affordable in India.

Speaking at the LTE India 2016 event in Delhi today, NK Yadav said that the penetration of rural 2G services have crossed 50 percent. The real tele-density is still around 25 percent. Penetration of data services was about ten percent.

“To increase the data usage, there is a need to make the services more affordable,” NK Yadav said.

The main challenges for Indian telecoms include high spectrum costs and right of way charges and other levies. Heavy charges in these areas make investments in the infrastructure service expensive and returns inadequate.

“Above high spectrum charges, the Government is also imposing a service tax even as local charges for right of way are almost doubling every now and then,” said Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

Spectrum shortage in India will disappear through sharing and trading.

Despite the expansion of 4G services across the country, the demand from the customers was not strong enough to support the growth of the sector. Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular are investing in 4G expansion, while Vodafone India has presence in 5 telecom circles.

Rishi Bhatnagar, president at Aeris India, said: “With wider adoption of IoT, telecoms will become the data storage providers in IoT, enabling a new stream of revenue and revenue enabled services.”

Telecoms are turning into IoT solution providers for their enterprise customers.

Adrian Scrase, head of Mobile Competence Centre, 3GPP said that worldwide 494 LTE networks existed in 162 countries. These are expected to rise to 550 networks soon. Non-traditional users would constitute increasing portion of the customer base, which will push the networks usage.

Sanjay Sharma, regional VP and head of Redknee South West Asia, explained how traditional data could be combined with real-time, contextual information to detect and capture more opportunities for monetization. Redknee provides real-time monetization software with 2.8 billion subscribers.

Rajat Mukarji, CCO at Idea Cellular, Arvind Bali, CEO of Videocon Telecom and Avinash Mittal, CIO of Telenor India were also part of the speaker list at the LTE India 2016 event.