India currently has around 14.8 million capable subscribers who are using 4G phones, but 4G subscriptions are still significantly lower, according to a study released by Nokia Networks, which also said that 4G LTE device penetration is currently hovering around 1.61% in India.
1800 MHz enabled LTE devices leads with 1.45% penetration (13.3 million devices) followed by 2300 MHz enabled devices at 1.2% penetration. Mumbai, Delhi, Kerala Punjab, Karnataka have LTE device penetration-- 1800 MHz using FD LTE technology--over 2% of their subscriber base, which is a significant opportunity, the study said.
“We see significant opportunity for operators for offering 4G as LTE handset penetration is increasing at affordable prices. There is a possibility of 4G leapfrogging 3G in terms of new subscriber addition, since the price point of LTE devices are expected to come done from Rs 8000 level to around Rs 4000 level in next few months,” Amit Marwah, Head of Technology, India Market, Nokia Networks, said.
The Nokia Networks study said that users of leading national operators have more LTE 2300 MHz devices and use latest handsets. It added that six out of ten top LTE devices are sub Rs 8,000 and are growing rapidly in the country.
According to Marwah, the year 2016 will see higher penetration of affordable LTE handsets across India. “It is imperative that India should have high quality 4G networks to provide a superior subscriber experience in this new generation of technology in the country,” he said.
On the 3G front, the country has witnessed 26% subscription growth in a span of six months, while the 3G penetration in India is only 24.59%, which ascertains that there is a huge opportunity for telecom operators to tap.
One in every four Indians or 225 million users already has an capable 3G device, supporting 2100 MHz band, in their hand, while 3G subscribers today are only at 100 million, which means only 45% 3G capable devices have 3G subscriptions in India, the report said.
“The strong push that most telecom operators have put in 2015 so far in expanding 3G network coverage must continue together with converting 2G subscribers to 3G. A significant population of subscribers today has 3G enabled devices which are still untapped,” Marwah said.
The report added that 144 million or 15.58% 3G phone penetrations are on 900 MHz, which can help boost 3G services in India in the 900 MHz band in future.
There is a huge potential in cities other than metros as well. Mumbai has the highest penetration of 3G, followed by Delhi.
As per the study, the top 5 circles as per 3G device penetrations are Mumbai, Delhi, Kerala, Punjab and Kolkata, while West Bengal, Bihar, UP (East), Assam and Orissa have the lowest 3G phone penetration – however there is huge subscriber population in these states and hence potential for 3G services is immense in these states.