Feature Article

June 12, 2012

Maravedis-Rethink Predicts 371 Million 3G Subscribers in India by 2017

Even though broadband penetration has been rather slow in India, wireless market research and analysis firm, Maravedis-Rethink is predicting a bright future. According to the sixth edition of Maravedis-Rethink’s report "India 4G and Cellular Market Analysis and Forecasts, 2012-2017," the Indian market represents a significant growth opportunity for the broadband wireless sector.

The data from this report shows that 3G is starting to make inroads in India and the active 3G subscriber base is estimated to reach 41 million by the end of the year. The author of this report Basharat Ashai, said, "In India, the growth of 3G has been slower than many expected, mainly because of the high price of services." He added, "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."

According to the Maravedis-Rethink report, the challenge Indian operator’s face in bringing an inexpensive multimode (2G/3G/TD-LTE) device to consumers is the TD-LTE technology. As long as TD-LTE is the de facto technology for mobile broadband in India, the operators will continue to face this dilemma, says the report. Meanwhile, Caroline Gabriel, research director for Maravedis-Rethink, commented, “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."

Some other findings of the report indicate that the TD-LTE subscriber base in India will reach 67 million by the end of 2017. And 3G smartphones will dominate the device category with 55 percent market share by the end of 2017. The study also suggests that the availability of content in local languages will be a key determining factor for using 3G and TD-LTE services, especially in rural areas.

The study also shows that due to their small amount of spectrum (5MHz), 3G spectrum holders will have to offload data traffic in the future. While Indian operators providing broadband wireless services in the unlicensed frequency bands of 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz are expected to play an increasingly important role in the 3G data offload.

As per the report, by the end of 2017, Bharti Airtel is expected to lead the market in number of 3G subscribers. And FDD-LTE variant will be deployed when 700 MHz spectrum is allocated in late 2014 or early 2015, says Maravedis-Rethink.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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