India’s mobile market continues to consolidate causing massive market upheaval

This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in India’s telecommunications market. The report analyses the Telecoms Infrastructure, mobile, fixed broadband, Digital Media and Digital Economy sectors.

India continues to be one of the fastest growing major telecom markets in the world. It is also one of the largest. Sweeping reforms introduced by successive Indian governments over the last two decades have dramatically changed the nature of telecommunications in the country. The Indian government has been proactive in its efforts to transform India into a global telecommunication hub.

India’s telecom industry is expected to see a major expansion of its network infrastructure during the 2018 to 2020 period. Each of the top three mobile operators: Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone-Idea are now planning to extend coverage to address a surge in data consumption.

The fixed line market in India remains highly underdeveloped due to the dominance of the mobile segment. Further, the number of fixed telephone lines is slowly declining as the mobile segment continues to expand.

As well as its huge national network, India’s investment in telecommunications infrastructure over the last decade has extended to a heavy involvement in the international market. Under the leadership of international operator VSNL/Tata Indicom the country has been assembling an extensive infrastructure of gateways, satellite earth stations and fibre optic submarine cables.

India’s fixed broadband market remains highly under-developed due to the dominance of the mobile platform and in turn by the uptake of mobile broadband. Fixed broadband penetration is expected to grow at a moderate rate over the next five years to 2023 from a very small base.

Leading Indian fixed broadband service providers have a limited pan-India fixed broadband presence and are mainly focused on metros, and selected tier-1 cities.

The digital economy will help the country align to its goals of expanding the wider Indian economy as well as enhancing jobs. Sectors such as communications, including telecoms, IT services and eCommerce in the coming years will expand further contributing to the country’s digital economic growth.

India is one of the fastest growing eCommerce markets globally however India will take more than 10 years to reach the level of the US and China markets in online retail.

There are several trends in the Indian online education segment that are contributing to the growth opportunities ahead. These included a continuous need for working professionals to learn new skills as well as the emergence of technologies such as big data and artificial intelligence that is enabling online education vendors to design customized content.

India’s mobile market has experienced very strong growth over the last six years. The market remains highly competitive, but rather than a focus only on growth in subscribers the market is shifting to value-added. The roll-out of 4G / LTE services is driving a significant shift to mobile data services across the country.

Particularly strong growth was seen in the 2016-2018 period as newcomer Reliance Jio aggressively entered the market. With its totally 4G offering, Reliance Jio has evolved to become a nationwide mobile operator focused heavily on data, with voice and data services at half the average market rates. This has seen a sharp drop in ARPU amongst most mobile operators and a sharp loss of subscribers by some operators. Operations of smaller-scale mobile operators is becoming increasingly unviable, forcing them to merge or be acquired by larger providers or exit the market entirely.

Slower growth is predicted over the next five years to 2023. The market will be constrained from higher growth due to very strong local competition and an increasingly saturated mobile market.

Mobile broadband penetration has grown strongly in India over the past few years driven by a strong and growing mobile subscriber base and strong adoption of 4G LTE services. Further strong growth is predicted over the next few years, driven by further adoption of 4G and eventually 5G services particularly as the penetration rate is well below a number of other nations.

Uptake of next generation technologies such as Internet-of-things (IoT), and evolving trends such as smart cities, and new devices offering virtual reality experiences will all enhance data usage going forward. Operators will increasingly focus on infrastructure investments such as optical fibre and small cells for expanding 4G coverage and capacity. India has taken initial steps towards the eventual rollout of 5G services

Key Developments

  • The mobile market continues to be the main focus of the Indian telecom sector;
  • India’s telecom industry is expected to see a major expansion of its network infrastructure during the 2018 to 2020 period;
  • The Reserve Bank of India drafted guidelines that allows for direct money transfers between the apps of different mobile wallet providers;
  • IoT focus areas will include agriculture, health, transportation, security, automobile, and smart cities;
  • Video will remain the main driver for online content consumption;
  • Fixed broadband penetration is expected to grow at a moderate rate over the next five years to 2023;
  • India has taken initial steps towards the eventual rollout of 5G services;
  • Market competition is intensifying in the mobile sector, significant market consolidation amongst the mobile operators is underway.


Order this report: India – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband – Statistics and Analyses


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