3G from Tata Docomo is just few days away! 3G business was a pricey one, now it is affordable, thanks to BSNL who drops unlimited 3G data plans to Rs 700 per month!
More excitement are just some months away as most operators plan to roll out their own 3G services in Q1 of 2011.
After becoming affordable 3G will bring some changes in India despite of the fact it is cost-conscious market.BSNL/MTNL will earn big revenues by offering seamless 3G connectivity to private player, none of them has pan India 3G licence.
Wireless Broadband Internet – most anticipated feature of 3G, even those are satisfied with wireline broadband are looking for 3G data services. It will give you mobility. Voice tariff is now stable, and data segment is getting momentum which helps telcos to increase ARPU. Competition in wireless data market will bring down the tariff eventually.
Video calls & video conferencing (e-governance/ tele-medicine) – currently BSNL offering onnet video calls at 30p/min but offnet video calls will not be that cheap. I personally do not feel video calls are a market shaker, but it will certainly help the carriers to increase revenue.
Online mobile gaming has a huge potential. Operators and game makers are waiting for this opportunity. VAS market will evolve as per requirement with the progress of 3G adaption.
HSDPA mobile phone market will be booming, and prices will also drop. Desi mobile phone companies are expected to launch 3G phones at below 5K price tag, but without font camera, HSPA support, powerful battery and processor these phones will be far away from true 3G experience! Google’s android powered phones can beat the Nokia’s dominance in Indian soil.
Data card business – Open market data cards will be choice of most 3G users, so this market is also going to roar in coming days. Hopefully Desi mobile phone companies will enter this market and kick the price drop!
As 3G spectrum is on 1900-2100 Mhz airwave, more BTS will be required. Government also plans for solar powered mobile towers which can open a market of greener mobility.
MVNO (Mobile virtual network operator) which is still not a popular concept in Indian telecom can get success through 3G. Specially Uninor (backed by Telenor), Videocon, Cheers (backed by Etisalat) and old Virgin Mobile (using Tata Docomo network) can enter 3G market via MVNO route.
Mobile Number Portability, as a late entrant will not be a game changer in a multi-SIM environment where market is still based on voice tariffs , but operators will focus more on better services to keep subscribers. 3G Data services and other VAS can be a catalyst for high MNP implementation.
HSPA+ (ultra-fast wireless internet)
Current 3G players of India MTNL & BSNL started with HSPA 3.6Mbps, now are upgrading to 7.2 Mbps HSPA. This speed will be enough to cater people who never see 2Mbps unlimited plan on wireline broadband.
Some operators are choosing HSPA+ directly – Airtel and Reliance announces HSDPA 21Mbps 5.7Mbps HSUPA. While there is rumor Vodafone will deploy next gen HSPA to offer download speed upto 56Mbps in selected cities. Even if you do not get such speeds, and there is high chance you will not, 3G data services from private players will be costly.
HSPA+ has a future roadmap – that is LTE, which is backed by Qualcomm. It is highly expected most of BWA winners will choose LTE, not WiMAX.
GSM will kill CDMA?
Well in one of my last articles, I thought of CDMA could be the choice of Indians, but it is certain India is on the verge of ditching CDMA except for rural connectivity. But CDMA has certain potential for a market like India where spectrum is less, greater coverage with a BTS compared to GSM and operators can offer rock bottom tariffs on voice and data. If Reliance did not choose CDMA in 2005 to start their mobile business, mobile revolution could not be here.
In spite of these favoring factors CDMA is losing the battle. Because the market is evolving and momentum starts moving from voice to data. And private operators (Tata/Virgin, Reliance and MTS) are providing some out-of-mind data plans, they do not sell RUIM cards for using open market EVDO USB data cards (FYI, BSNL sells RUIM seperately).
CDMA players got a blow when 3G auction was conducted only for GSM players. Their only hope comes when recently telecom minister asked defence minister to intervene to ensure that the army to vacate airwaves to enable the government for 3G auctions in 1900-MHz band for CDMA players.