The numbers of 3G subscriber connections in India are forecast to reach 400 million within four years, representing almost 30 percent of the country's total.
According to a new Wireless Intelligence study, India 3G rollout (forecasts and market shares 2011 – 2015).
Seven Indian operators acquired 3G spectrum last year in addition to the two state-owned operators (BSNL and MTNL) that had already been awarded 3G airwaves ahead of the private auctions.
The study notes that over 80 percent of 3G connections will be based on WCDMA in five years, with the remaining 20 percent on CDMA-based 3G networks.Operators Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices Ltd (TTSL) have both offered 3G CDMA for a decade; but both are also in the process of migrating to GSM/WCDMA and were the first two private operators to launch services using new WCDMA spectrum in Q4 2010.
Reliance and TTSL are set to command 3G market shares of 39 percent and 30 percent, respectively, this year (see table).However, 2011 has already seen a succession of rival launches – including Bharti (in January), Aircel (February) and Vodafone (March) – and Wireless Intelligence forecasts that all new WCDMA-based operators will have launched services by June 2011.
This means that, by 2015, 3G market shares will more closely resemble the overall national picture: Bharti – India's largest operator - is forecast to command the largest 3G share (18 percent), followed by Reliance (15 percent) and BSNL (13 percent) (see table).
The study notes that India's Circle A and Circle B service areas will account for 75 percent of the country's 3G connections by 2015. Even though initial 3G rollouts are concentrated in the so-called metro areas (Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata) they will soon be outstripped by fast-growing demand for 3G in more populous regions such as Punjab, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana, the report says.
But the situation is complicated by the fact that no 3G operator is able to offer a nationwide service, which will require network sharing and roaming between operators. Pricing 3G services appropriately in a market where around 200 million prospective users live on less than US$2 a day is also set to be a major challenge.
India 3G operator market shares 2011 & 2015