India Mobile Broadband Steam Cools Down-Industry Fixates on Future Investment. Airtel launched 4G mobile broadband services in India on 10 April 2012, becoming the first company in India to offer 4G services. While, 4G subscribers laggard with about 8 million 4G subscribers until Reliance Jio launched there 4G MBB services to data starved India in September 2016. Since then India’s MBB market saw a meteoric rise until, this growth leveled out in the last quarter. While, in a period of just 16 months, Reliance Jio became a 4G MBB leader with 177 million subscribers at the end of December 2017. The leveling out of growth of 4G subscribers in a much hyped Indian market has made the industry concerned about its future growth and the huge investments made on the basis of a projected linear growth that seems to no longer exist.
India Mobile Broadband Steam Cools Down-Industry Fixates on Future Investment
GSMA intelligence figure shows the abrupt increase of 4G subscribers in India for the last five quarters, is stagnant now. The slowing down of this growth is evident from the table. After a major growth in 4G subscriber in first four quarters it leveled out in the last quarter with an increase of just 3 million. In a supposedly big market like India it can be considered a major setback for their telecom industry.
|India||End of 1st Quarter||End of 2nd Quarter||End of 3rd Quarter||End of 4th Quarter||End of 5th Quarter|
|88.4 million||129.7 million||152.4 mn||174.4 mn||177.2 mn|
Moreover, it seems that this number will either decrease or will stay stationary due to strict policies and high tax rates imposed by the Indian government. When Jio made its debut 3 years back, it offered affordable tariffs and a robust network that’s built entirely on 4G. The fact that the carrier gave away huge amounts of data for free for everyone for the first six months allowed it to climb up the ranks in a short time, amassing over 100 million subscribers already.
India is found to have the lowest 4G speeds among the 77 countries examined by OpenSignal
Irrespective of the remarkable claims made by Indian telcos of offering blazing-fast internet experience, India is found to have the lowest 4G speeds among the 77 countries examined by OpenSignal. The average download speeds of 6.1Mbps in the country is over 10 Mbps lower than the global average that increased from 16.2Mbps to 16.6Mbps in the last six months. It means that a large number of subscribers have shifted to 4G resulting in network congestion which became the prime reason behind the slow 4G speeds. Due to bad quality of 4G services, many users have shifted back to 3G.
Telcos in India have lost faith of their consumers for not providing services they promised in adverts. For example When 3G started to pick its pace in the country, telcos advertised it by saying “enjoy buffer-free YouTube on high speed mobile Internet.” From a consumer’s perspective, after six years, the only thing that changed in these advertisements is that 4G has replaced 3G in writing. All other claims were the same, so telcos lost faith of their subscribers who kept waiting for better internet speed which was never provided. Moreover, the demands of consumers have risen significantly compared to what Indian telcos can actually offer for the price.
By 2020, GSM Association expects around 50% subscribers to continue with 2G
Due to high taxes and strict rules for telecom industry in India, telecos are not able to fulfill demands and provide better services to their customers. This was one of the reasons that Telenor quit India’s market. These are some obvious reasons as to why majority of subscribers in India are not eager to join the 4G bandwagon. By 2020, GSM Association expects around 50% subscribers to continue with 2G.
Consumers are well aware that telcos need to upgrade their network capacities to accommodate new subscribers. Many Indian consumers are using devices which are not even compatible with 4G. Many people in India can’t even afford high data connection rate due to which the 4G subscriber will fall down in near future.
The question is, will India be able to hit 1 billion milestones with such poor 4G speed?