3G in India: Opportunities and Challenges

Last Saturday (April 25, 2010) MobileMonday had organized an interesting panel discussion – “3G – Are we ready?”. The panelists were,

  • N.Chandrasekhar, GM (Sales & Marketing), BSNL Karnataka
  • Manjula Sridhar, Head, Market Analysis Group in Huawei Technologies
  • Sunil Rao, Head of Forum Nokia India
  • Sunil M, Mango Technologies
  • S.R. Raja (Moderator), GM (Strategy), Sasken

For a Saturday morning the attendance was very good. The talks were short and to the point. Some highlights,

S.R. Raja

  • Govt wants 3G to have an effect on Development Sector (Education, Health) & Welfare Sector
  • Will investment bring crowding effect?
  • 2G started in the peaks (urban area) instead of the valleys (non-Tier-1 cities). Will 3G go the other way, i.e. start in valleys and then to peaks. Doubtful.
  • Govt has clearly said if there is no inclusive growth we will not see real growth (i.e. 3G must be available to everyone in India)
  • 3G will revolutionize wireless broadband in India


  • Most states have about 14 mobile operators
  • BSNL/MTNL 3G services already available in 666 (Omen?) cities in India, 14 cities in Karnataka
  • Dec 2009: 21% of rural population use mobile, ARPU & tariff coming down
  • On 2G the ARPU is Rs 144, it should go up with 3G
  • Network operators have a huge challenge. They cannot tinker with the 2G equipment to offer 3G, they have to invest on fresh capex for 3G.
  • In spite of tariff coming down, the average minutes of usage per customer per month is going down (currently at 411 minutes a month). Operators expected it to go up in view of reduction in tariff.
  • Govt expected by 2008 India would have 40 million internet users & 20 million broadband connections but even in 2009 India had 50 million internet users & a mere 8 million broadband connections. Once India has 30 million broadband connections it will create 1.89 million direct jobs & 60 million indirect jobs, add $90m to GDP.
  • 3G stakeholders


    • Every mobile handset will have its own IP address
    • Companies like Huawei have been technically ready with products for 3G in India. Just waiting & waiting for it to happen.

    Sunil (Nokia)

    • 3G enabled phones in use: 20%  in the world, 8% in India
    • Only half of these have enabled 3G services
    • Other half haven’t enabled 3G services because of the subscription cost factor
    • To make 3G viable for the operator the ARPU needs to be more than $10
    • By 2013 India will have about 18-19 million 3G users
    • Monthly cost is expected to be 20-30% more than 2G
    • Email, chat, social networking, internet radio work fine on 2G & 2.5G. No killer ap on 3G yet, so migration of users from 2G to 3G will be slow in India.
    • 50% of 3G apps are LBS based (location based service)

    MobileMonday Bangalore has continued to hold very useful discussions, keep up the good work.


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