When it comes to broadband, it seems Indians will increasingly be using 3G wireless connections to access the Internet. Research from Telegeography shows that at the end of the first quarter of 2011 there were only 11.5 million wired broadband subscribers in India — a pittance given that broadband was first rolled out in 2003. In comparison, 3G growth has been explosive.
At the end of March 2011, there were 12.2 million 3G connections, even though 3G was first introduced in India in late 2009. 3G has become widely available in recent months as companies like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have introduced their 3G services. Telegeography estimates that 3G subscriptions jumped 73 percent in the first quarter of 2011 (which ended on March 31, 2011).
In a conference call with analysts earlier this week, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs noted that Indian operators “are making plans to increase 3G coverage from over 100 cities today to over 1,000 towns by the end of the year.” What that means is that 3G will become an increasingly important way to access the Internet. Jacobs pointed out that his company was selling chips to makers of affordable handsets and devices that are using HSPA+ technologies. Some of them, like Spice G-6550, cost as little as $90. The emergence of cheap 3G phones should provide a nice boost for Google’s Android OS ecosystem, a point we noted last year.