From a humble start, growth in India’s mobile sector rapidly picked up pace and developed a sustained momentum, aided by higher subscriber volumes, lower tariffs and falling handset prices. Home to a group of global operators working with local companies, had what seemed to be a booming mobile market at the start of 2012. However, growth in India’s huge mobile market effectively stalled during 2012 and the market was looking very subdued coming into 2013. Mobile operators had added 370 million new subscribers to their networks in 2010/2011, an average of 15 million per month over that two year period, to bring the total number of subscribers to around 900 million by the start of 2012. However, 2012 heralded the start of a somewhat erratic period in the development of the subscriber base that saw the year end with just 865 million subscribers. The drop in subscriber numbers was a combination of falling customer demand and the effect of operators ‘cleaning out’ their data bases.
While ARPU steadily declined as competing operators offer cheaper tariffs the usage levels remained reasonably high thus slowing the decline in revenues. There had also been a major push in recent years to take mobile services into the poorer and rural areas of the country, a move that inevitably weighed down on ARPU. In 2010 the long-awaited 3G auctions finally took place. In 2010/2011 the 3G networks were rolled out and services delivered to customers. But things went sour for the mobile industry in particular when the unfolding scandal over the awarding of 2G licences in 2008 took centre stage at the beginning of 2012. The Supreme Court directed that 122 licences awarded four years earlier be cancelled, throwing the sector into chaos. Further court decisions and the subsequent responses of the regulators were central to the eventual outcome. The cancelled licences were re-auctioned in late 2012 with a further auction held in March 2013. The market was starting to gain some balance once more as the various disputes were resolved or moved closer to resolution.
This report looks at the mobile market in India and presents a set of relevant market statistics. It also examines the technology platforms already in place and those being put in place. And finally the report looks at the range of mobile voice and data services in India.
- the mobile subscriber base contracted by 3% in 2012 and was looking at little or no growth in 2013;
- despite this, with mobile penetration of 70%, there was room for further growth;
- mobile ARPUs appeared to be stabilising and even growing by 2012 as operators cleared out their subscriber databases and data services became more significant;
- a number of operators had exited the market following the so-called 2G scandal and further fall-out was anticipated;
- the re-auction of 2G licences took place in November 2012, followed by a second spectrum auction in March 2013;
- the outcome of the re-auction process was judged to be a major failure for the government;
- India’s 3G market was growing steadily, but certainly not as fast as expected;
- the regulator and the operators continued to argue over the providing of services under 3G roaming pacts.
- India overhauled Japan to become the world’s third largest smartphone market;
- Blackberry set up a limited monitoring arrangement to meet the security demands of the government
- Vodafone India launched its mobile wallet service M-Pesa in conjunction with ICICI Bank
Companies covered in this report include:
Aircel/Dishnet, Bharti Airtel, Loop Mobile (BPL Mobile), Quadrant (HFCL), Idea/Spice, Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices, Vodafone Essar, Uninor (Unitech), Videocon, S Tel, Batelco, Bharti Telenet, Reliance Infocomm, Tata Teleservices, Sistema (Shyam Telelink), Swan Telecom, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL), Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), Data Access, Hughes Telecom, Videocon, SingTel.