TRAI’s report on Indian Telecom Industry and the dismal broadband penetration in India

TRAI released the 2007 telecom report and here are a few key findings:

  • The total number of telephone subscribers has reached 241.02 million
  • The overall teledensity has increased to 21.20% in August 2007
  • The total wireless subscribers (GSM, CDMA & WLL(F)) base reaches 201.29 million
  • The wireline segment subscriber base stood at 39.73 million (decrease of 0.16 million at the end of August 2007)
  • Total Broadband connections in the country have reached 2.56 million by the end of August 2007.
  • Indian telecom market share

    Given the dismal broadband penetration (i.e. only 8% of Internet users are on Broadband), what could possibly drive the growth of Broadband in India?
    Sujai K, CEO of Sloka Telecom shares his insights:

    The drivers for penetration of broadband in India will be::

  • Decreasing cost per line
    The decrease in cost per line will come from two factors- decrease in the cost of equipment and from the inherent advantage of wireless when adding new lines. The base stations which cost $3000-$5000 now will start costing $400-$800 by end of 2008. The CPE (Customer Premise Equipment) which costs $200-$400 now will start costing $30-$80 by end of 2008. The cost of a wireless network is high in the first stage of deployment, because of factors like taking up space for tower, erecting the tower, cabling, housing, and connecting the tower to the network, installing base stations, etc. However, once those costs are recovered from enterprise services, adding new subscriber will come at a minimal cost.
  • Decreasing operating expense
    We will see more and more infrastructure sharing between various operators which was completely absent till now. Especially, in rural networks, this infrastructure sharing will turn out to be mere common sense. The operators who own the spectrum will resell the spectrum to other smaller players who will mushroom in various parts of India to cater to non-metros..Also, the coming of Virtual Network Operators will add to competition.
  • Decreasing cost of PC (or similar device)
    With projects like one laptop per person, and other initiatives, the cost of PC is going to be less than Rs. 5000 by 2009. Other concepts like Novatium, if they tend to be aggressive can also make a marginal impact on the penetration of broadband. (BSNL is rolling out its broadband services to one lakh schools across the country by December 2008)
  • Social attitudes and habits embracing broadband facilities
    Every school in India is going to have a PC and also an internet connection. Those kids who never knew PCs will now be used to using them at these schools. These kids in turn will make way for their families owning a PC and therefore an Internet connection. All government employees are now moving towards using PCs and broadband connectivity.
  • More Indian content
    What will further fuel the penetration is the content which is more relevant to the masses of India. Subscribers would like to see more content tailored to their needs and desires. More Indian language content, more applications suitable to Indian social context will come up in the next few years which will in turn contribute to increasing broadband penetration.

What do you think will drive the penetration of broadband in India? What has been your experience with Broadband connectivity? Please share your opinions.

tags: Indian telecom industry, Broadband in India

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