India Will Have 150M 3G Connections by 2014

India will have 150 million 3G connections by 2014, according to a new forecast from Wireless Intelligence, a service of trade group GSMA Ltd. Indian authorities just completed a long, convoluted auction process which was marked by delays, thanks to classic bureaucratic snafus. The auction raised about $11 billion, a price tag guaranteed to make the 3G rollouts slow and 3G access expensive. The fact that none of the carriers really have a nationwide 3G footprint won’t help matters, either.

Wireless Intelligence’s data makes clear that carriers expect 3G data revenue per user (ARPU) of $11 vs. $5 a month for voice services. In order to pay for spectrum and 3G rollouts, the carriers are going to have to execute some fiscal miracles.┬áHere are some other stats from the Wireless Intelligence report:

  • There will be 10 million (WCDMA & HSPA) 3G connections by the first half of 2011.
  • There will be 100 million 3G connections by the first quarter of 2014.
  • By the end of 2014, there will be 150 million 3G connections.
  • State-owned BSNL and MTNL, which were the first carriers to launch, have managed to get a mere 1.5 million 3G connections.
  • BSNL & MTNL are expected to control about 25 percent of the market, the three largest non-state-owned carriers — Airtel, R-Com and Vodafone — 43 percent of the market.

India is expected to have more than 600 million mobile connections by the end of the first half of 2010 and a billion connections by 2013. Like many developing economies, it’s leap-frogged fixed telecom and is instead embracing the wireless revolution. Huge pent-up demand and ultra-cheap calling plans thanks to a highly competitive market and low-priced handsets have made the wireless phone a fixture even in the most remote parts of the country, bringing telephony to far-flung rural areas.

It’s hard to get one’s head around the impact of India’s mobile revolution. The mobile industry has become the golden goose and the corrupt government structure is trying to kill it by what I think are bone-headed moves.

In my opinion, the long delays in the 3G auctions and rollout has put India behind in the telecom race. By the time 3G gathers momentum in India, the rest of the world will be aggressively embracing LTE, the next-generation wireless broadband standard.

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