Forget 2G, India has 3G Plans

25 Comments

Indian operators are aiming to roll out 3G even before earlier generation services like GPRS take off. The country’s telecom regulator is already beavering away on issues like the price of 3G licenses, the allocation of spectrum and how much companies can charge for value-added services, and now it has allowed Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd., Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd., Bharti Airtel and Hutchison Essar Ltd. to use 3G spectrum to test equipment in anticipation of a launch later this year, says Reuters .

Optimists say India can leapfrog slower-bandwidth tech with a speedy launch of 3G. But there are some questions whether India is really jumping ahead of the curve or blindly following in the footsteps of operators in more developed markets—where 3G’s fancy gizmos proved hard to sell to consumers. We know, high-end data and video downloads and Bollywood movies on your mobile, yada, yada, yada. But here’s a frank assessment: “3G as a revenue booster [in India] is far-fetched at this time,” Shubham Majumder of Macquarie Research told GigaOM.

On the upside, freeing up the 3G band may alleviate a spectrum shortage that makes a mobile call in a place like Bangalore a crapshoot on a good day—plagued by dropped calls and that infuriating “network busy” signal. But don’t get too excited yet. “A sudden, massive overnight migration to 3G may be unrealistic to expect,” Tonse Telecom’s Sridhar Pai told GigaOM. “It will also come with a fee, and some won’t adopt it immediately. In the intermediate time, it may make things worse.”

25 Comments

Pradeep

accidentally bumped into this link – and looked at the date of post. 2006. and it took a good 4 yrs for it to finally arrive. :)

rajdeep mazumder

i use bsnl edge but really speaking am not really satisfied with the speed.. the downloading speed in average is about 4 kbps and forget about simple gprs it counts in bytes.. while edge is supposed to give us 200 kbps (as in usa) we do even get 10 kbps in india.. 3g is supposed to give about 2 mbps ( as in usa) i thnk if its introduced in india it will be the same story as with edge.. i thnk the cellular companies should rather improve their edge network as they already have the resources and no extra investments on setting up towers .. bt with 3g it will take decades before all towers are erected and it actually reaches every one.. so a further improved edge is what i thnk will be better for india..

Yusuf

Well I think 2 G services works wonderful in India.

Just for information we have E accross all the big cities in India, I am one of the user –

@ US / European users.. (Airtel has a corporate plan of 250 Rs. which is equal to 5 Euro a Month lol!! Unlimited G/E).

I am not finished yet…

G coverage is almost i would say 100% across the India(I am using Airtel) come to India and try it out…

On International Roaming u can easily switch to 3g where ever u find it.. I was in Munich and Frankfurt, it worked amazingly.. although i had to pay heavy charges for that…

I think India is far better than any service provider in the world. If Vodafone or T-Mobile in Europe would had such subscriber database there network would have gone nuts…

Conclusion: we Indian’s are hungry for more bandwidth…

Sreejith

With 3G, people can watch TV on their handsets. Thats enough for the people of India who are controlled by the media.

Sandeep

hi folks iam using a nokia 6681 with unlimited GPRS connection from BSNL Cellone. Get very good speeds on the cellphone, connect laptop/ PC to the net via this GPRS, and that too with decent speeds ( agreed not as fast as Dataone DSL speeds) but it is really worth it at Rs 199/- per month for unlimited 24×7 usage !

Aj

Interesting, reading all the views. There are a lot of valid concerns (cost, speed, red tape) and then comparisons made to global economies and what is an acceptable level of service quality. My belief is around “what’s the consumers outlook in terms of market based management/ segmented approach”. Yes 3G is going to be expensive (operations coats: it’s a given), yes 3G infrastructure is not to it’s optimum level … given that let’s not discount 3G. Historically the industry started with voice then moved to data and now has to move to video. It is the nature of the beast and given the deep volumes (Indian user base) the success of 3G will depend on the service provider’s creatively packaging their value added services. Cost’s can be managed if the volumes can be driven. Volumes can be driven if solutions are tailor marketed to customer needs. Let not forget it is a customer driven market and India is a country with the second largest population, meaning huge customer base.

Prasannaa Ganesan

I found a new website that is of great use to Post-paid mobile phone users in India (especially in the karnataka circle).
Visit http://www.yourbillbuddy.com , register yourself within a minute , upload your past monthly bills that should be available in the service providers website, click on analyze to see how you have used your mobile phone in the recent months for which you have uploaded the bill and the best is still to come — yeah, check out the recommendation tab in yourbillbuddy. See recommendation of top plans from each service provider in your circle based on your usage pattern and cost involved, and more importantly.. save time — a little confused about this ??? The saying is ” Time is money”. This tells you how much you could potentially save on switching your plan based on the recommendation.

So do it now, start saving money by cutting cost on your mobile bills at the same time still continue to use your mobile like how you have in the past.

Amar

I am not sure whether is it correct to go for 3G or 4G (WiMax) etc…Right now mobile market is stagnating with known players with identical tariff. Indian mobile users are also tired of Data capabilities of existing providers. All providers in Chennai they charge almost Rs 900 for LIMITED GPRS/EDGE (slowest mobile connection in the earth) data service. My safe bet is they would charge Rs 5000 Per Month for 3G data services in Chennai. For some reasons these guys like Mittals cheat Tamil Nadu customers while provide unlimited GPRS services in Kerala and other parts of the country. I am not sure what they think of Tamil Nadu people.

Ved

In today’s world Internet is more important than TV and I hope Indian government takes necessary steps to provide provide Internet at faster bandwidth at cheaper than today’s rate.

Roop

In India we will only make statements.

In india 256 Kbps broadband from BSNL is celebrated. Its a joke

In japan and south korea, Every house has 100 Mbps, yes Mbps not Kbps connection.

My GPRS connection from Hutch is slow and also expensive. they charge 10 Rs per song or per image download, when we can just freely bluetooth from PC, what a joke. who wants such expensive and slow mobile internet by the way!

Mag

I have no problem believing that, as the Indian market is growing rapidly, thousands of IT professionals and millions of regular users are increasing that demand. Sometimes this forces to jump over steps, and yes India has to jump over 2G to 3G to fulfill that number of people getting into the line.

Petabro

Good news analysis and reporting.
The rich kids use xG services is India. There is a niche market for cricket video on cell phones
Shailaja – You should interview Arvind Rao of OnMobile.

Nikhil

Sujatha: That some ISP’s attempt to mislead consumers in India doesn’t change the fact that anything less than 256kbps (however little that is) should not be marketed as broadband. I’m of the opinion that, to most sellers (and hence buyers), the term ‘Broadband’ in India actually means ‘Internet via Cable’.

And if consumers buy into this reasoning – Caveat emptor.

I’ve used ‘Internet via Cable’ and suffered; learnt and switched to DSL.

sujatha

Do any of you read properly? It doesn’t say India is “skipping” 2G. Go back and read it again.

Nikhil, while the Indian government may say only connections at or above 256kbps are broadband, Internet service providers very often market 128kbps as broadband. I’ve been told by providers many times that they provide ‘broadband’ at 128 kbps.

Jim Hughes

India skipping 2G?

Try telling that to the 150 million Indians using the 3 major GSM networks, or the many others using the 4 CDMA networks in India…

Nikhil

Problems with 3G:

  1. Cost of spectrum: The India Defense buys equipment from both north and south blocs, which operate on different frequencies. Hence, it occupies more spectrum. The cost for the defense to migrate to another spectrum is estimated at around Rs.1000cr.

  2. Cost of infrastructure: In the US, Verizon, Sprint and Singular have spent a combined $10 Bn on establishing 3G networks. If import duties in India (at 37.5%, I think) come into force, you can imagine the investment required. I’m not sure if the duties applies to “infrastructural electronic goods”, but the government will extract its pound of flesh.

  3. 3G mobile handsets are more expensive. In Finland, the government subsidised phones in order to make them affordable. Add duties to 3G phones initially imported into India. Reduces margains for handset manufacturers.

Experts at the Mobile India Forum, which I attended recently, recommended that India should hold on, and research packet based technologies that work on internet protocol. They said that India should invest in creating IPR in NGN and 4G, instead of following the fashion. With such high investment, chances are that low adoption could ruin the operators.

Maybe someone can convince me otherwise. Please.

Also, I’ve read here before that in India, 128kbps is considered broadband. Let’s just set the record straight – according to a government notification, only connections at or above 256kbps are broadband. It’s certainly not enough, but it’s still 256kbps and not 128kbps.

Yuvamani – I don’t think acceptance of poor quality photographs is an indication that poor connectivity is also acceptable.

Yuvamani

Murali

I completely agree with the limitations that exist on 3G Data. However you have to realise that when 128kbps is considered broadband. 3G is a viable medium for last mile connectivity.

Also customers in india seem to have less trouble accepting lower quality of disruptive technologies. Camera phones are a very good example.

Murali

Good luck with using 3G handsets for internet connection. Even though these systems promise high data rates, the available bandwidth is shared among many users and in India’s case, among many many more users. In earlier 3G systems, the standards bodies completely ignored the need for upload speeds and later hurried in to add it in what they call 3.5G. I think India should not lose track of the potential of wired broadband. Wireless is more of a convenience and cannot guarantee quality of service. A 3G upgrade to ease voice congestion makes sense but for data, it may not be a bad idea to let all the 4G developments based on OFDM and MIMO to mature.

Yuvamani

Its a good idea to skip 2g and go directly to 3g. As far as handset support is concerned there is not going to be too many issues. Indians love their handsets and actually see them as a statement of style and cool and status. On an average the handsets I’ve seen in india are better than the carrier subsidised crap that owns market share in the us.

Also with the pathetic state of indian broadband penetration I can see Indians directly using 3G handsets as their only internet connnection. The data rates 3G can provide are more than that dished out by the indian broadband pipes.

India is also more welcoming of media content on their mobile phones. Think music. Most Indian teenagers cannot really afford a mobile phone AND and Ipod AND a camera. They would happily use a mobile for these functions (and they already do). Rolling out a mobile music download service makes a lot of sense in India. ( yeah Yeah I know making people pay is not easy .. but still the possibilities are intriguing)

There is no reason to upgrade to 2G. It does not really provide too many advantages. Its better to skip directly to 3G. However as I see it, the rollout will be slow.

Chetan

Few points to note are, 3G license fees is still under consideration and the rollout may not happen until Q1-2007 in metro circles. 3G will be launched in localized context.

It should have acceptance with post-paid subscribers first and slowly gradually with pre-paid. I expect 30% of India’s total mobile subscribers to be using 3G services.

vishal

Hi-
Well the article is written without any good explanation of why 3G will not be a hit. My opinion is that it will be a big hit. Remember when mobile stated in India it was a more luxury in India than the car! But today we see even begger and transexuals (another form of beggers only in most cases) queing up in photos published.
I remember one incident here. AT&T had hired a big consulting firm to check validity of mobile services in US. The firm advised it will not be viable to invest in mobile services and the whole market by 1995 might reach 70-100 million USD!!! How wrong the company was!
So cheerup lady and have some positive view about india!

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