Telecom Lead India: PwC India has shared its predictions for 2013.
Slowdown in subscriber growth: growth is already down to 6m subscribers per month, compared to 3 million a week two years’ ago. With rural network expansion still slow, and disconnections increasing due to operators ridding their bases of dormant accounts, we expect a real slowdown in overall subs growth.
Network comes back to life: the next few years will be underlined by intense network planning, innovation and diversification. Every operator is spectrum-starved and most will be looking for ways to manage scarce network resource to deliver better quality at lower cost. Tower cos will be looking for opportunities to extend their role beyond passive infrastructure. The network is always a long play, and 2013 will see the start of a new phase of activity.
Focus on return on capital: as headline revenue growth slows up CFOs will knuckle down hard on departments to justify investments and expenditure, especially in the network, product development and IT. There will be a constructive tension between the need to contain costs and the desire to push new activities such as innovation.
Excite the customer: data services disappointed us in 2012, and rather than predicting that 2013 will change all of that, we think service providers will look to engage customers through new services and “experience.” We put our money on one niche service launching this year which will make an impact and mobile advertising could be part of it, and at least on one operator opening an exciting retail experience store somewhere in a major metro.
Litigation, litigation: we do not believe that all of the regulatory decisions that will be taken these few months will be easily accepted. The industry will take positions, sometimes united and sometimes divided, on spectrum, refarming and liberalisation issues.
Overall, we saw 2012 as being a tough year for telecoms in all senses, and we expect 2013 to be a year of hard grind: in the marketplace, in reorienting operational focus, in building exciting offerings for the customer, and in handling regulatory surprises.
Mohammad Chowdhury, Leader Telecom, PwC India