We have seen the Mobile Revolution in India. It is still happening. There are enough indicators to suggest that Mobile penetration will exceed 400 million subscribers in India in the next few years. Let’s pause and go back a few years, say 2001. Could any analyst predict that we would have 200 million subscribers by end of 2006? Could anybody in the industry predict that we would be adding more than 5 million subscribers a month?
The growth of mobile penetration is mind-boggling and is quite dramatic. It came about because of some of the factors listed below. Note that it is always easy to look back and analyze why it happened. That’s what I am doing here.
Key Factors for this explosion
* Late start
* Cheaper equipment
* Innovative and Bold Deployment Strategies
First, India embraced cellular when 2G systems were already deployed in most parts of the world. Having completely skipped 1G because of late start, India went straight to the superior 2G systems. Most of the lessons learnt by the European deployments could be transferred to India.
Second, India embraced GSM nearly eight years after it was taken up in Europe. Most of the equipment had already become very cheap by then. This allowed for mass deployment in the country.
Third, India embraced certain bold strategies- like that of Airtel which has outsourced complete network deployment to Ericsson and management of networks to IBM. However, a note of caution here- they were quite stupid not to have implemented sharing of tower infrastructure right from day one. They seem to have woken up quite late on this.
Fourth, with a billion people anything you do seems to pick up volumes.
All these factors put together has resulted in mind-boggling and dramatic mobile penetration in India.