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India Getting Connected: New Potentials and Possibilities

The Indian mobile market is not only the second biggest market after China, but it is also one of the fastest growing markets around the world! Nevertheless, the market suffers greatly in terms of its structure where the lack of proper regulatory measures has resulted in a high proportion of multiple SIMs and inactive users. For instance, 30% of SIMs are inactive; an issue which not only affects the country’s actual tele-density and makes it difficult to evaluate the real revenue of the market, but also results in losses to operators. To avoid losses and reduce the number of inactive users and SIMs, operators must focus on customer retention rather than customer acquisition. They must as well drive the adoption of values added services and invest in controlling the entire user experience from tracking customer usage behavior to suggesting and providing the latest services and applications.

Despite oscillating between the two contradictory poles of being one of the largest yet least structured mobile markets at the same time, the mobile market in India breaks ground in being one of the most competitive markets worldwide. The biggest proof is the bulk of operators investing in it. It is not just that, but many of these operators work at prices much below their costs just to participate and have shares in the market. However, this huge number of players competing in the market pushed the government to take some regulatory measures. It started to alleviate rules for telecommunications mergers and acquisitions to ease industry consolidation which is inevitable under such circumstance. Consequently, the number of players competing in the market will eventually drop off. The drop off is expected to happen through acquisitions, closures, walkouts as well as other means.

The mobile market in India needs not a boost as much as the operators investing in it and the government standing behind them do. Bureaucracy is the major hindrance stalling the Indian market! With the governmental delays in licensing 3G networks, the mobile sector lagged behind as operators faced a lot of difficulties in building up networks. Added to that the fact that the country is divided by telecom authorities into several areas with 5 or 6 operators operating in each, without any of them granted the permission to operate nationwide Since not a single operator has a nationwide 3G network, wireless carriers had to form alliances with rivals to provide roaming services domestically.

Whereas, the launch of 3G is expected to nourish the market, the anticipated services will be limited in 2012 due high costs of 3G data plans and 3G enabled handsets. However, the plans set for 2013 seem promising as operators are expected to migrate 3G-capable handsets to 3G networks hence promising of high service adoptions. The 3G networks are anticipated to transform India and bring about a new wave of internet access and a new means of communication while driving fierce competition into the market. 3G battles between operators will be fought on content and quality and not price after the dramatic experience with 2G where operators found themselves fighting over prices thus, neglecting quality and content.

At their early stages, 3G networks will not be as powerful as expected to stream movies or provide other data-intensive services; nevertheless, they will open the internet to many Indians who are basically looking to be connected. 3G will nourish the Indian market drastically. With the implementation of 3G networks, life would be much easier! New and unheard of services will be introduced to the Indian population. For instance, Vodafone Essar allied with ICICI Bank to provide mobile banking services. Likewise, Bharti Airtel unveiled a partnership with the State Bank of India. India is on its way to getting connected - nationally and internationally.