3G subscriber base in Indian telecom market to reach 41 million this year

Telecom Lead India:
Active 3G subscriber base in Indian telecom market will reach 41 million by the
end of 2012. By the end of 2017, Bharti Airtel is expected to lead the market
in number of 3G subscribers.

Few weeks ago, Bharti Airtel, India’s number one mobile
operator, kicked off 3G price war by slashing tariffs by upto 70 percent.
Operators such as Reliance Communications, Idea Cellular and Vodafone have also
announced similar cuts. Earlier, both BSNL and MTNL announced significant
reductions in 3G data prices.

Besides 3G, Airtel is leading the 4G market by launching in
Kolkata and Bangalore. Airtel’s main rival, Reliance Industries is yet to
announce its 4G launch date. During the recent RIL AGM, RIL CMD Mukesh Ambani
did not divulge more details about 4G plans.

A Maravedis-Rethink report said broadband penetration of
13.35 million in 2011 offers significant growth opportunity for the broadband
wireless sector in India.

In India, the growth of 3G has been slower than many
expected, mainly because of the high price of services. However, we believe
that the availability of lower cost smartphones in the US$50 range will drive
3G growth in India in the coming years,” said Basharat Ashai, author of the

3G smartphones will dominate the device category with 55
percent market share by the end of 2017.

The availability of content in local languages will be a key
determining factor for takeup of 3G and TD-LTE service, especially in rural areas.

Given their small amount of spectrum (5MHz), 3G spectrum
holders will have to offload data traffic in the future.

Indian operators providing broadband wireless services in
the unlicensed frequency bands (2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz) are expected to play an increasingly
important role in the 3G data offload.

As long as TD-LTE is the de facto technology for mobile
broadband in India, the challenge operators face lie in bringing an inexpensive
multimode (2G/3G/TD-LTE) device to consumers. Multimode devices give operators
an opportunity to expand 4G with the option of fallback to 3G networks in rural
and suburban areas. Operators are pressuring chipset/device manufacturers to
accelerate their efforts to get the cost of multimode devices down
substantially,” said Caroline Gabriel, research director, Maravedis-Rethink.

The TD-LTE subscriber base in India will reach 67 million by
the end of 2017

FDD-LTE variant will be deployed when 700 MHz spectrum is
allocated in late 2014 or early 2015.

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