Now Every Indian is Mobile!

Bitcom India

 

Bravo! The National telecom Scenario has an interesting story. There were two phones for every 10,000 Indians in 1947. In 1997, four years after the government gave up its monop1y over the sector, there were two phones for every 100 individuals  and at the end of last year there were two phones for every ten citizens of India.

            Telephone connection was a prestige symbol thirty years ago but now we find even the common house maid or your plumber or electrician has a cell phone and you can contact the individual for assistance just by ringing on the cell phone.

COAI has stated in a recent communication that “the GSM industry has closed the Financial Year 2008-09 with a Bang by reporting the highest ever GSM subscriber additions since its inception at 10.8 million (excluding the GSM subscribers of Reliance) during the month of March 2009. With this, the cumulative All India GSM subscriber base has now grown to 288.3 million in March 2009 (excluding GSM subscribers of Reliance), up from 277.5 million in February 2009.As per the report of an expert the India’s cellular services market is projected to surpass $37 billion by 2012, showing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18 per cent,.    With this, the nation’s mobile subscriber base is also set to exceed 737 million connections by 2012, growing at a CAGR of 21 per cent during the same period.

            The Indian mobile scenario seems to be all set for the next stage – expansion and consolidation by ushering in of new services like 3G and beyond. 

            In a significant achievement, India crossed the 400-million mark in telephone connections at the end of January this year and this march continues.  This is a great achievement for a nation that used to have not more than 10 million telephone connections just a decade ago.  Things have changed fast, and for the better. 

            It is interesting to note that the mobile services are covering 75% of population of the country & 50% of geographical area.  India is today adding around 10 million phone connections every month, and despite the slowdown in the economy, the telecom industry continues on a dynamic growth path, with the Nation getting connected rapidly.

            The two cities of Delhi and Mumbai, account for 45.67 million mobile phone customers, or 5.28% of India’s 286.86-million mobile phone customers, The growth is poised to continue , and India is expected to remain the world’s second largest wireless market after China in terms of mobile connections.   

            The growth in the mobile subscriber base is on the back of a rapidly-proliferating rural market, lower handset costs, and low tariff rates in the Indian market, and the Rural telephony will continue to trigger growth and is expected to grow four-fold . Call rates have further dropped to about 1.5 cents per minute narrowing the gap with fixed-line rates. These factors along with an increasing competitive landscape will fuel market growth and encourage the adoption of wireless services in the rural and semi-urban provinces of India.    Cellular market penetration is projected to increase from 19.8 per cent in 2007 to 60.7 per cent in 2012.  This growth can be primarily attributed to the increasing focus on the rural market, local consumer durable and electronic companies entering the domestic mobile handset segment, and lower handset prices. Vendors will continue to focus on sub-25$ handsets to capture market share. The Indian mobile connection market continues to be dominated by prepaid subscribers. Prepaid connections account for more than 89 per cent of all mobile connections in 2007 and are expected to grow to more than 92 per cent of the connection base by 2012.    The total services revenue for prepaid connections is expected to grow at 18.9 per cent CAGR for the period 2008-2012 and the total services revenue for postpaid connections is expected to grow at 15 per cent CAGR during the same forecast period.

By 2012, the prepaid subscriber base is expected to cross 683 million and postpaid subscriber base to exceed 53 million subscribers.    The churn rate in India is 41.0 per cent (2008), and despite a maturing market the ratio is expected to go up to 49 per cent in 2012.

The number of mobile subscribers in India is fast increasing and in next couple of years, every second person will have a mobile phone. Use of mobile phones beyond basic voice service and text messaging is the next step, as mobiles are emerging as the third screen after TV and PC. Use of cell phones as debit/credit cards for mobile payments has already commenced, though it is in its nascent  stage at present.

A feasibility study by the Government of India is under way to the use of mobile numbers as an individual’s Identification Number (ID). It is therefore time that Government comes out with strict rules and regulations for giving mobile connection to users after establishing their identity so that it becomes extremely difficult for people to keep on getting new connections with different mobile numbers under fake addresses.

            The Indian mobile scenario seems to be all set for the next stage – expansion and consolidation and ushering in of new services like 3G and beyond.  In a significant achievement, India crossed the 400-million mark in telephone connections at the end of January this year and the march continues.  This is a great achievement for a nation that used to have not more than 10 million telephone connections just a decade ago.  Things have changed fast, and for the better.  It is interesting to note that the mobile services are covering 75% of population of the country & 50% of geographical area.  India is today adding around 10 million phone connections every month, and despite the slowdown in the economy, the telecom industry continues on a dynamic growth path.

            India has the 2nd largest mobile subscribers’ base with 139 operational networks; a staggering investment of around Rs. 1, 50,000 crores.  With new licence holders rolling out services the Indian Telecom Sector is set to witness an additional investment of over Rs. 1,30,000 crores in the next two years.  This Telecom march will lead the country to a phenomenal figure of Gross Telecom revenue of the order of 20 million US$ (2% of National GDP) by the year 2012.  With all this what is expected is expansion of already growing user base making such services available to one and all.  The revolution in the Indian Telecom has only just begun.

            India’s base of 430 million telephone users, expanding at some 10 million a month, which has made for headline numbers.  But the real story, say industry insiders and economists, is the effect of the rapidly spreading use of cellular phones on the economy and the lives of people; there is a boom in the cellular mobile.  All India GSM cellular subscriber figures as of April 2009 stand at 2,97,702,599, this does not include the CDMA based cell phones.  Still, there is a long road ahead for phone services and their spread of economic benefit. Industry organization such as COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) project that the country will be home to some 761 million phones by 2011.

            Mobile tariffs are likely to lower further in 2009 – As per an expert report; telecom tariffs are set to fall significantly in 2009.  A reduction in IUC tariffs coupled with increased competition with the entry of several new players could lead to local call tariffs being as low as 10 paise per minute and STD at about 25-35 paise per minute by 2010.  This will be the huge challenge for new entrants and some of the existing operators who have been demanding a reduction in IUC tariffs for a long time.

            An expert report on mobile messaging suggests that SMS will continue to be the cash cow of mobile data revenues for some time to come.  The whole mobile messaging industry was worth US$ 130 billion in 2008.  It is predicted to be worth US$ 224 billion by 2013, 60 percent of non-voice service revenues and that there is nothing to stop continued growth of mobile messaging in the short term, driven by a cocktail of ubiquitous SMS, media rich MMS, enterprise based mobile email and youth conscious mobile IM.  MMS is growing fast and certain countries, such as China and the United States, are becoming very big markets.  Worldwide MMS traffic of 75 billion messages in 2008 is impressive, and the future growth looks very good in Asia, as affordable camera-equipped handsets flood the market with Chine leading the way.

The growth in subscriber numbers is the result of a concerted effort by the cellular industry to accelerate its growth trajectory in a bid to reach the government’s target of 700 million mobile subscribers by 2010.  Value-added services will take new shape and grow, and the industry will have to make these services relevant to the emerging set of users.

Technology and connectivity will take a quantum leap as the next 400 million customers come into the fold.  These new customers will be different.  They will have access to a phone plus many innovative services for the first time.  Not only will they be talking among themselves, they will be paying their bills, making money transfers both in the country and outside, using their phones as entertainment devices, finding employment and entrepreneurship opportunities and also educating themsel

 The growth of cellular services has been phenomenal since last few years; today the service providers of cellular communication besides facing congestion and poor connectivity encounter some serious challenges.  Many users are dissatisfied with their service providers and are keen to migrate to a new provider, but would like to retain their identity and the existing cell phone number.  We are waiting for the implementation of the scheme for number portability for realization of this migration.

            According to an expert, by 2013 the number of subscriptions worldwide will have risen to more than 5 billion and annual revenues from the global mobile market will top US$ 1.03 trillion.  It has been predicted that from end-2007 to end-2013, the global mobile market will see huge growth, increasing in size by over half (56%), The recession during the year 2008 world over has not impacted the industry so far.

            It took over 20 years to reach 3 billion subscriptions, but another 2 billion net additions are forecast in just six years, with the global total nudging past the 5-billion milestones by 2013.  With this extraordinary growth, total annual revenues derived from mobile operators will grow by over a third (33.9%), jumping from US$ 769 billion in 2007 to US$ 1.03 trillion six years later in 2013.  Such stupendous growth naturally throws up challenges also of  similar proportions. It is hoped that soon we should have a cell phone with every able bodied citizen

     The growth of cellular services has been phenomenal since last few years; today the service providers of cellular communication besides facing congestion and poor connectivity encounter some serious challenges.  Many users are dissatisfied with their service providers and are keen to migrate to a new provider, but would like to retain their identity and the existing cell phone number.  We are waiting for the implementation of the scheme for number portability for realization of this migration.

            According to an expert, by 2013 the number of subscriptions worldwide will have risen to more than 5 billion and annual revenues from the global mobile market will top US$ 1.03 trillion.  It has been predicted that from end-2007 to end-2013, the global mobile market will see huge growth, increasing in size by over half (56%), The recession during the year 2008 world over has not impacted the industry so far.

            The future requires the cellular services to take care of the following aspects for the healthy growth of this very important infrastructure

Expansion of existing Network without deterioration in service level; improvement in connectivity; up gradation of Technology so that it not only provide new features but is user friendly to the ordinary user citizen .

Fixed – Mobile Convergence is an important tool for conservation of Frequency spectrum and is also an important method of call diversion and need to be gradually implemented. Number portability is another factor which need to be taken care of as while a dissatisfied user want to change his service provider but

It is also necessary to take care of some of the social aspects of the cellular mobile services, like the radiation safety for the users, as  views of expert differ on this factor and the user has become more vulnerable with the availability of cheaper hand sets and the user are ordinary people who may not be aware of the hazards of radiation.

There is need to rationalize the haphazard growth of cellular towers on the sky line and improve the aesthetic mobile tower scenario keeping in view the city skyline without deteriorating the quality of service .

There is need to check the use of SMS and MMS which though are the future mode communication but needs to have tighter control on the misuse of SMS & MMS services.