3G launch in India : Analysis of Services Rollout and Key Players Strategies

3G services have been launched by all the carriers (except STel) in India with multiple services and various sachet & usage-based tariff plans, with varying uptake. Globally, 3G services have been available for a long time (almost ten years in Japan). Carriers in various international markets have adopted different strategies while launching 3G services. While carriers in developed markets

primarily focused on enterprise customers, carriers in developing markets (launching 3G relatively later) targeted retail consumers and offered the high speed wireless technology as a potential broadband option to the consumers.



Indian carriers (especially incumbent carriers) currently face multiple structural challenges such as congested networks and limited available spectrum (5MHz) to offer 3G enabled data optimized services at launch. Also, carriers’ walled garden” approach to value added services and prevalent piracy and Indian consumers’ lack of willingness to pay for such services pose a huge challenge for immediate uptake of 3G services. However, once the 3G device prices decrease and the tariffs stabilize in the first two years, Knowledgefaber believes that the 3G uptake will rise in 2013 and reach over 90 million by March 2014.



Among the various 3G enabled services launched by the carriers, mobile internet services are expected to garner maximum revenues (of over US $4.5 billion) with over 80 percent of 3G subscribers adopting these services by March 2015. Although, currently location based services are in nascent stage, Knowledgefaber believes that various services such as mobile gaming and mobile surveillance will increasingly use 3G enabled location based services in future. Of the various mobile video-based services, video calls are expected to witness significant uptake and 3G enabled music streaming service is expected to grow, driven by increase in the number of 3G subscribers and decrease in content costs. As per Knowledgefaber estimates,  while the incremental ARPU (monthly) for 3G subscribers is expected to be approximately US $3.7 (INR 166), the incremental blended ARPU (monthly) driven by 3G services is expected to be over US $0.45 (INR 20) by March 2015.



3G launch in India is also expected to create multiple opportunities for various players across the telecom value chain and each player is working on a specific –India 3G’ strategy. While technology and chipset player Qualcomm is focusing on consolidating its leadership position, Mediatek is developing feature rich multimedia phone solution (MT6268) for high end 3G phones and banking on leveraging its strong relationship with Indian mobile handset companies. Among carriers, while incumbent players (such as Airtel & Vodafone) are focusing on voice-centric deployment of 3G services initially and offering data enabled services only opportunistically in order to retain high end customers, new pan-India players (such as Aircel) are focusing on offering data enabled 3G service at launch. Dual technology players (Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices) intend to leverage both their EvDO and HSPA networks to offer high speed data services to its subscribers.



Of the various mobile handset companies, currently market leader Nokia has 3G devices across various price points and also enjoys a strong brand equity and wide distribution network in India. However, Samsung and Micromax can potentially leverage their quick time-to-markets; strong feature phones play and brand association with target audience to emerge as strong players in the 3G devices space. HTC and Blackberry are expected to do well as niche players. Among VAS companies, niche technology platform enablers such as Apalya (video services platform provider), and content providers/aggregators such as MapmyIndia (maps and navigation content provider), Indiagames (gaming content provider), etc are expected to witness significant growth.



As various industry players plan and execute their strategies targeting consumers in the emerging 3G ecosystem in India, Knowledgefaber believes that players who are able to partner and create a win-win solution for other value chain players (integrating their operations & business models) to offer a single touch-point and end-to-end value to the consumers will evolve strongly in the Indian 3G ecosystem.



(This report is the highlight of an industry report titled India 3G Report: Analysis of Services Rollout and Key Players Strategies” released in April 2011. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the emerging 3G ecosystem in India from different players’ (technology and chipset providers, network infra providers, carriers, handset OEMs and VAS players) perspective and comments upon the strategies of key companies supported by multiple data points, forecasts and industry insights.)




By Amit Goel, Knowledgefaber

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