Telecoms is the biggest growth story in India of the last 20 years. In 1993, it had one of the lowest tele-densities in the world. Now as of the end of January 2012, including fixed-line phones, India had 936.12 million phones, or a total tele-density of 77.57. In January 2012, India added a net 9.88 million mobile subscribers, in the world’s second-biggest mobile phone market. This gave India 903.73 million mobile connections as of January 2012 – in comparison, China, the world’s largest mobile phone market, had 987.58 million mobile subscribers. Active mobile subscribers in India in January 2012 were 659.97 million, or just over 73% of the total connections.
An interesting statistic is the comparison of tele-density in urban areas versus rural areas: mobile tele-density in urban areas was 162.06, and stood at 37.13 in rural areas. This signifies that there is plenty of room for growth in the rural areas and also opportunity for those who can offer rural applications and technologies.
In the broadband market, India now has over 13 million broadband connections. In its draft of the National Telecom Policy the government has set itself a target of achieving 175 million broadband connections by 2017, and 600 million by 2020, each with a minimum download speed of 2Mbps.
Services via mobile and web
Illustrating the potential for providing products, solutions and services via the telecoms and mobile platform, both in urban and rural markets, is a drive by Indian government to ensure all of its departments and agencies develop and deploy mobile applications to provide all of their public services through mobile devices, to the extent that is feasible on mobile platforms.
The Department of IT said as part of its National e-Governance Plan, it aims to make public services more accessible to the public. Its stated objective is to “make all government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets, and ensure efficiency, transparency, and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realise the basic needs of the common man”.
The websites of all government departments and agencies are to be made mobile-compliant; open standards will be adopted for mobile applications to ensure the interoperability of applications across various operating systems, and uniform pre-designated numbers will be used for mobile-based services to ensure convenience.
This is just one example of the services India is looking to deliver via mobile. There is also a strong desire to deliver rural healthcare and education services via the mobile and telecoms infrastructure. According to the India Brand Equity Foundation, the mobile value added services industry alone is expected to increase to US$5.8 billion by 2013.