Affordable LTE handsets might drive users leapfrog to 4G skipping 3G

By : |November 4, 2015 0
Image courtesy of Smart Mobile Phone at Freedigitalphotos.net

NEW DELHI, INDIA: Only 45% 3G capable devices have 3G subscriptions in India, reveals a Nokia study done on the 3G and LTE device uptake trends in India.

Untapped opportunity in 3G

The country has witnessed 26% 3G subscription growth in a span of six months, while the 3G penetration in India is only 24.59%. This brings a huge opportunity for telecom operators to tap.

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Amit Marwah, Head of Technology, India Market, Nokia Networks, said: “The strong push that most telecom operators have put in 2015 so far in expanding 3G network coverage must continue together with converting 2G subscribers to 3G. A significant population of subscribers today has 3G enabled devices which are still untapped.

According to the report, 1 in every 4 Indians already has an capable 3G device (supporting 2100 MHz band) in their hand (225 million), while 3G subscribers today are only at 100 million (source: TRAI report August’15). Among them, there are 15.58% (144 million) 3G phone penetrations on 900 MHz. This can help boost 3G services in India in the 900 MHz band in future.

There is a huge potential in cities other than metros as well. Mumbai has the highest penetration of 3G, followed by Delhi. As per the study – the top 5 circles as per 3G device penetrations are Mumbai, Delhi, Kerala, Punjab and Kolkata.

West Bengal, Bihar, UP (East), Assam and Orissa have the lowest 3G phone penetration – however there is huge subscriber population in these states and hence potential for 3G services is immense in these states.

Possibility of 4G leapfrogging 3G?

The report further states that LTE device penetration is still low at 1.61%. 1800 MhZ enabled LTE devices leads with 1.45% (13.3 million) followed by 2100 MhZ enabled devices at 1.2%. India today has about 14.8 million capable subscribers who are using 4G phones, but 4G subscriptions is still significantly lower. Mumbai, Delhi, Kerala Punjab, Karnataka have LTE device penetration (on LTE 1800/ FD LTE) over 2% of their subscriber base – which is a significant opportunity.

“We see significant opportunity for operators for offering 4G as LTE handset penetration is increasing at affordable prices. There is a possibility of 4G leapfrogging 3G in terms of new subscriber addition, since the price point of LTE devices are expected to come doown from INR 8000 level to around INR 4000 level in next few months. The year 2016 will see higher penetration of affordable LTE handsets across India and it is imperative that India should have high quality 4G networks to provide a superior subscriber experience in this new generation of technology in the country,” said Marwah.

Few other interesting findings from the report in this regard:

  • 6/10 top LTE devices are sub INR 8000 and are growing rapidly
  • LTE 2300 device penetration at 1.02% is higher than other sub 1800 LTE band.
  • Maharashtra and MP beats this trend with more devices supporting 2300 band than 1800 or any other band
  • Users of leading national operators have more LTE 2300 devices and use latest handsets

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