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India - Mobile Communications - Market Overview, Technologies and Forecasts


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

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, India had around 900 million mobile subscribers (including both GSM and CDMA services) at the start of 2012. The market was continuing to grow, achieving an annual rate of around 20% in 2011; however, the rate of growth was slowing in 2012. While ARPU had steadily declined as competing operators offer cheaper tariffs the usage levels remained reasonably high thus slowing the decline in revenues. There had 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 set to be re-auctioned in late 2012.

This report looks at the mobile market in India and presents a set of relevant market statistics. It also examines the technology platforms in place and those being put in place. And finally the report looks at the range of mobile voice and data services in India.

Key developments:

The mobile market has seen the subscriber base expanding by 10%-15% annually in 2012; with mobile penetration of around 80% there was room for further growth; having fallen steeply, ARPUs appeared to be stabilising by 2012; in the meantime, the 2G scandal has seen a large scale cancellation of mobile licences that had been issued in 2008; a number of operators were either exiting the market as a result or were still considering whether to rebid in the re-auction of 2G licences; the regulators were aiming to hold the re-auction before the end of 2012, but further delays could well occur; the 3G market was growing steadily, but certainly not as fast as expected; the regulator had directed operators to stop providing services under 3G roaming pacts.

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, Bartelco, 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.


1. Synopsis
2. Mobile communications
2.1 Overview of India’s mobile market
2.2 Mobile statistics
2.3 Mobile market segments
2.4 Forecasts - Mobile services – 2015; 2020
2.5 Development issues
2.5.1 Cancellation of inactive subscribers
2.5.2 Tariffs for wireless broadband
2.5.3 Reporting of revenue
2.5.4 Revenue and ARPU
2.5.5 Spectrum allocations and spectrum auctions
2.5.6 Rural expansion
2.5.7 M-banking
2.5.8 Foreign investment
2.5.9 Merger and Acquisition (M&A) rules
2.6 Regulatory issues
2.6.1 Background
2.6.2 Developments in 2011
2.6.3 Developments in 2012
2.7 2G corruption scandal
2.7.1 Allegations
2.7.2 Charges
2.7.3 Court decision, appeal and aftermath
2.7.4 Re-auctioning of 2G spectrum
2.8 Analysis: 2G scandal - 2011
3. Mobile technologies
3.1 Overview of mobile technologies used in India
3.2 GSM
3.3 CDMA
3.4 Third Generation (3G) mobile
3.4.1 Background
3.4.2 Handsets
3.4.3 Licensing process
3.4.4 Spectrum allocation
3.4.5 Auction procedure
3.4.6 Auction
3.4.7 BSNL and MTNL
3.4.8 Analysis: consequences of the 3G auction
3.4.9 Roll-outs and developments
3.4.10 Roaming dispute
3.5 Fourth Generation (4G) / Long Term Evolution (LTE)
4. Mobile voice services
4.1 Prepaid
5. Mobile data services
5.1 Market overview
5.2 Short Message Service (SMS)
5.3 i-mode
5.4 BlackBerry
5.5 Mobile TV
5.6 Mobile content
5.6.1 m-Health
5.6.2 Social networking
5.6.3 Mobile payments
6. Notes on forecasting
7. Related reports
List of Tables, Charts and Exhibits
Table 1 – Overview of India’s mobile market – 2010 - 2012
Table 2 – Mobile subscribers, annual change and penetration – 2006 - 2012
Table 3 – Mobile subscribers (GSM and CDMA) – 2002 - 2012
Table 4 – GSM mobile subscribers and annual change – 1997 - 2012
Table 5 – Mobile penetration urban and rural – 2007; 2009 - 2012
Table 6 – Mobile services revenue – 1996 - 2012
Table 7 – Mobile ARPU by technology, prepaid/postpaid/blended – March 2012
Table 8 – Mobile ARPU (GSM and CDMA) – 2005 - 2012
Table 9 – Forecast mobile subscribers – 2015; 2020
Table 10 –GSM mobile subscribers by region/circle – 2009; 2010 - 2012
Table 11 – GSM ARPU – 2003 - 2012
Table 12 – GSM ARPU by region/circle, prepaid/postpaid/blended – March 2012
Table 13 – GSM mobile operators, subscribers and market share – March 2012
Table 14 – GSM ARPU by operator grouping, prepaid/postpaid/blended – March 2012
Table 15 – CDMA mobile operators, subscribers and market share – March 2012
Table 16 – CDMA ARPU – 2003 - 2012
Table 17 – CDMA ARPU by region/circle, prepaid/postpaid/blended – March 2012
Table 18 – 3G auction (2010): Number of licences and total fees paid by operators
Table 19 – Prepaid mobile subscribers: share of total market – 2003 - 2012
Table 20 – Mobile ARPU by technology, prepaid/postpaid/blended – March 2012
Table 21 – SMS traffic by technology and subscriber – 2011 - 2012
Chart 1 - Mobile subscribers and penetration – 2006 - 2012
Chart 2 – Mobile subscribers by technology and mobile services revenue – 2002 - 2010
Chart 3 – GSM subscribers and ARPU – 2003 - 2011
Chart 4 – GSM mobile operator market share – September 2011
Chart 5 – CDMA mobile operator market share – September 2011
Chart 6 – CDMA subscribers and ARPU – 2003 - 2011
Exhibit 1 – Operators and licences affected by 2G licensing process cancellation – February 2012
Exhibit 1 – CDMA 3G commercial deployment in India
Exhibit 2 – 3G auction results: Service area licences by operator – May 2010

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