India is expected to clock 9 crore 4G subscribers and 18 crore 4G smartphones by 2018, says a report compiled by Bank on America Merill Lynch. It also points out that Airtel, Vodafone and Idea will gain from the growth if Reliance delays the launch of its 4G services.
In the coming years, 3G and 4G will tariffs will have a marginal difference as smartphone prices are expected to drop, pushing 2G subscribers to opt straight for 4G, skipping 3G , reports BGR.
“We expect 4G net adds to be faster than 3G net adds by FY 2019 and estimate 3G subscribers to be largely restricted in areas where 4G coverage is limited. However, we do expect 3G subscribers uptake to be strong for the next couple of years, at least, as 3G coverage would likely be better than 4G coverage,” said the report.
The report explains that if the telcos successfully rolls out 4G in rural areas before March 2016, their top-end (high usage) consumers would migrate to 4G by then. “This, in our view, will make it difficult for Jio to poach these subscribers as the company would need to focus on offering a differentiated service,” it added.
Reliance To Be 4G Market Leader From 2017
However, estimates in the report suggest that Reliance could lead the market in terms of 4G subscribers from 2017 till 2025; followed by Airtel, Vodafone and Idea.
“We note that top 5 % customers (mainly post-paid) of the big 3 telcos contribute to 15 per cent of their revenues. These customers are unlikely to switch to Jio given the comfort these customers have with their existing operators and general laziness to switch unless there is a very compelling proposition,” the report said.