India 3G subscription surges 26%, no takers for Airtel 4G?

India LTE smartphone penetration
3G subscription growth in India was 26 percent in the first six months of 2015, while 3G penetration in India was 24.59 percent.

A Nokia report on 3G and 4G networks in India said that 45 percent 3G capable devices have 3G subscriptions in India.

India has about 14.8 million capable subscribers who are using 4G phones, but 4G subscriptions is still significantly lower.

The report indicates that the 4G coverage of Bharti Airtel in 330 plus towns is yet to yield significant result — in terms of 4G subscriber base — to India’s number one telecom network operator.

On Tuesday, Counterpoint noted that India LTE smartphone market reached 10 million units in the third quarter of 2015, surging 2400 percent annually.

A report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch last week said India has significantly low level of 4G user base indicating that Bharti Airtel has not achieved any significant user base after completing the 300 town 4G coverage.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch said 4G LTE subscribers in India will reach 90 million by 2017-18 from almost zero in 2015-16. 4G smartphone base will jump from 5 million in 2015-16 to 180 million by 2017-18.

The report 4G market share of Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone will increase from 53 percent in 2016-17 to 60 percent by 2019-20. Reliance Jio Infocomm will have close to 40 percent share in the Indian 4G subscriber market by 2019-2020.

Nokia said 225 million Indians already has a 3G capable device supporting 2100 MHz band, while 3G subscribers today are 100 million, according to TRAI. 144 million users have 3G phone on 900 MHz. This can help boost 3G services in India in the 900 MHz band in future.

Mumbai has the highest penetration of 3G, followed by Delhi. As per the study – the top 5 circles as per 3G device penetrations are Mumbai, Delhi, Kerala, Punjab and Kolkata. West Bengal, Bihar, UP (East), Assam and Orissa have the lowest 3G phone penetration.

“The strong push that most telecom operators have put in 2015 so far in expanding 3G network coverage must continue together with converting 2G subscribers to 3G. A significant population of subscribers today has 3G enabled devices which are still untapped,” said Amit Marwah, head of Technology, India Market, Nokia Networks.

4G may leapfrog 3G

There is a possibility of 4G leapfrogging 3G in terms of new subscriber addition, since the price point of LTE devices are expected to come done from INR 8000 level to around INR 4000 level in next few months.
India 3G subscriptions

“2016 will see higher penetration of affordable LTE handsets across India and it is imperative that India should have high quality 4G networks to provide a superior subscriber experience in this new generation of technology in the country,” Marwah said.

LTE device penetration is 1.61 percent. 1800 MhZ enabled LTE devices leads with 1.45 percent (13.3 million) followed by 2100 MhZ enabled devices at 1.2 percent.

India has about 14.8 million capable subscribers who are using 4G phones, but 4G subscriptions is still significantly lower.

Mumbai, Delhi, Kerala Punjab, Karnataka have LTE device penetration (on LTE 1800/ FD LTE) over 2 percent of their subscriber base.

LTE 2300 device penetration at 1.02 percent is higher than other sub 1800 LTE band. Maharashtra and MP beats this trend with more devices supporting 2300 band than 1800 or any other band.

Baburajan K
[email protected]