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India to have 275m 3G subscribers by end-2013

16 сентября 2009

India's total mobile customer base will be close to 1 billion by the end of 2013, of which 275 million will be subscribers to 3G services, analyst firm Evalueserve predicted late last week.

The announcement came as India's Department of Telecommunications (DoT) finally set out a timetable for the auction of 3G licences; the regulator said the WCDMA spectrum licence auction will open on 7 December, while the contest for EV-DO licences and broadband wireless access spectrum (widely reported as WiMAX spectrum) will commence two days after the conclusion of the WCDMA auction.

Earlier this month India's largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel said it would be able to launch 3G services by October 2010 if the government awarded spectrum within 90 days. The 7 December date falls just outside that deadline.

Nonetheless, Evalueserve predicts rapid 3G subscription growth between 2010 and 2013. "This growth will be fuelled primarily by a decline in the price of 3G services, resulting from fierce competition among private players," the company said in a report authored by Abhishek Khanna of Evalueserve's Telecom and Digital Media Practice.

India's state-owned players Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) have already launched 3G services using the spectrum reserved for them by the government. They will be required to match the price of the winning bids in the auction for spectrum in their respective coverage areas. As it stands, neither has a significant 3G customer base.

Evalueserve said it expects a price war to break out among the private operators as they battle for market share in the early stages of 3G service rollout. Operators will primarily target the under-24 age group, which makes up around 54% of India's total population.

Unsurprisingly, the company expects customers in urban areas living above the poverty line to account for the lion's share of 3G subscribers in the early years. Around 80% of all 3G subscribers by 2013 will be from this segment, with 50% of the total urban, above poverty line market having 3G by the same date.

At the other end of the scale, the below poverty line segment – both urban and rural – "is expected to remain dormant over four to five years following the launch of 3G," the firm said. Meanwhile, 3G will start to have an impact in the rural, above poverty line segment after 2011, when 3G services geared towards rural areas will come on line.

3G handset sales will also grow rapidly between now and 2013. The number of 3G phones in circulation in India by that date is expected to reach 395 million up from more than 20 million today.

"As handset manufacturers are preparing to launch 3G handsets for as low as US$100, it is expected that by 2013 3G handsets will account for over 40% of the total mobile handset base in India," Khanna's report said.

Evalueserve also said it expects total mobile penetration to reach 78.3% in India in 2013, up from around 30% last year.

"The growth in this sector will be primarily driven by increasing adoption of mobile services by the rural segment, which is largely untapped as now," it said.

Penetration in the above poverty line urban sector will be 142.5%, compared with 79% in the rural above poverty line market.


Источник: Total Telecom

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