India Passes 1bn Mobile Subscriber Milestone

  • Thursday, February 11th, 2016
  • Author: Tim Maytom
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India has surpassed 1bn mobile subscriptions, joining China as the only two members of the Billion Club globally, according to global analyst firm Ovum.

According to the companys new forecast report, India crossed the billion subscriber threshold sometime towards the end of 2015, approximately three years after China hit the same mark.

While comparisons between the two countries are inevitable, Chinas wealthier consumers have driven a faster increase in both overall and mobile broadband subscriptions, as well as higher unique user penetration and higher average revenue per user for data.

“Comparatively, Indias growth trajectory is farther along than Chinas at the time and it will remain flatter, meaning India is unlikely to catch up,” said Charles Moon, practice leader for Asia at Ovum.

However, like China when it achieved 1bn subscriptions, India boasts around 80 per cent mobile penetration overall, with around 10 per cent of its subscriber base able to access 3G or higher, and forecasts suggesting that within three years, that number will cross the 500m mark, indicating a huge shift in how many Indian consumers will have access to online services.

Adoption in India will continue to be driven by 3G and 4G devices continuing to drop in price, along with cheaper data plans and the continued proliferation of apps and data services that appeal to a broad range of consumer segments.

“This is no different from most markets,” said Moon. “However, Indian operators may have more difficulty extracting profits from customers as they have the added challenges of extreme consumer price sensitivities coupled with a very crowded competitor field.”

This massive growth makes it easy to understand why firms like Facebook and Google are keen to establish themselves in India, but the countrys homegrown talent should also recognised, with apps like Saavn and Ola building extensive ecosystems with mCommerce, mobile payment and streaming capabilities.