Indian mobile broadband market: Challenges and Opportunities

Telecom Lead India: With current 951.3 million mobile
subscribers in the country, and anticipated 367 million mobile broadband
connections in coming four years, India is set to become the world’s second
largest mobile broadband market by 2016.


However, there are many aspects hindering the steady
growth of mobile broadband in India, which includes telecom policies,
uncertainty over spectrum allocation, ICR policy, legislation of VoIP for call
termination on PSTN and revenue share harmonization across circles.


If the authority is able to address these issues, the
mobile broadband market will certainly thrive in coming years.


Barring these obstacles, healthy penetration of 3G
services, improvement in network infrastructure, bundled dongle offers and
introduction of low-end smart devices such as smartphones and tablets will help
in augmenting the growth of Indian mobile broadband market.


Furthermore, the advent of small screen data packs via
micro SIM, and uptake of mhealth, mbanking and social networking will propel
the growth of Indian mobile broadband market.


Recently, Bharti Airtel CEO Sanjay Kapoor told Telecom
Lead: “India needs to strengthen the virtual infrastructure. Aggressive
mobile broadband initiatives will assist in ensuring significant growth for the
entire economy.”

Samar Mittal, head of Sales Development, India,
Nokia Siemens Networks said, By 2020, 1GB/per user/per day will be a reality
and data traffic will increase by 12-14 folds in coming five years.”

He added that cheaper handsets, applications or content
will fuel the growth of mobile broadband in India. Also, 3G, 4G/LTE and small
cells will be helpful. Mittal pointed out some requirements for the mobile
broadband delivery, which includes intense indoor coverage, extensive coverage
and sufficient spectrum.

While sharing some challenges faced by NSN’s customers,
he said that operators are keen to provide improved network coverage and the
company is also providing solutions. For operators, it is imperative to adopt
new business models, tiered pricing to improve operational efficiencies.


At a recently held Mobile Broadband Summit, Arun Das,
chief operating officer, Enterprise Business Services, Tata Teleservices said
that stabilization and PAN availability of 3G/HSPA networks, offload of 3G onto
Wi-Fi and 4G uptake will augment the mobile broadband market in India.


On technology front, uptake of EV-DO and HSPA
technologies and LTE device ecosystem and 3G/4G offloading will be helping the
growth of Indian mobile broadband market.


Furthermore, on device landscape, he said affordable
smart devices such as smartphones and tablets from ZTE, Huawei and Datawind
will also complement to the growth of Indian mobile broadband market.


India to become 2nd largest mobile broadband market in the
world by 2016: GSMA


Currently there are more than 10 million HSPA connections
alone across the country, and this is expected to grow exponentially, by 900
percent, to more than 100 million connections in 2014.


According to GSMA, 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 percent, against a 6.5 percentage point
rise in rural areas to 36.6 percent.


Lowest mobile broadband ARPU to add pressure on profitability
of Indian telecom operators


In India, low mobile broadband ARPU has constantly been
adding pressure on profitability of domestic telecom operators. Mobile
broadband ARPU is not growing significantly in India.


Comparatively, ARPU from mobile broadband business of all
leading domestic players is lower than operators such as NTT DoCoMo Japan, KDDI
Japan, Telstra Australia, Rogers Canada, Verizon US, and AT&T US, China
Mobile China, MTS Russia, Vodafone West Europe, SK Telecom South Korea and


The mobile broadband ARPU will grow with the good quality
of services and optimum content provided by the telecom operators.


Danish Khan

[email protected]