India's mobile market continues to get the bulk of local capital expenditure as the operators expand their infrastructure, reports Research & Markets.
The mobile sector boasts high subscriber and revenue numbers, as well as huge capital investment by operators. It has continued to be a highly competitive market in which a large number of providers have been battling to increase market share.
Over the last six years, the mobile market has experienced very strong growth. It remains highly competitive, but rather than focussing only on growth in subscribers, the market is shifting to value-added. The roll-out of 4G/LTE services is driving a significant shift to mobile data services across the country.
Particularly strong growth was seen as newcomer Reliance Jio aggressively entered the market, initially with a free data offering. This has seen a sharp drop in ARPU amongst most mobile operators and a significant loss of subscribers by some operators. The subsequent price war in the mobile sector intensified further and has severely hampered RCOM's business in particular, with its subscriber base nearly entirely wiped out. Slower growth is predicted over the next five years to 2024. The market will be constrained from higher growth due to very strong local competition and an increasingly saturated mobile market.
Mobile broadband penetration has grown in India over the past few years, driven by a robust mobile subscriber base and strong adoption of 4G LTE services. This trend is expected to continue over the next few years driven by additional uptake of 4G and eventually 5G services - particularly as the penetration rate is well below a number of other nations.
India has taken initial steps towards the eventual rollout of 5G services and has announced plans to establish a 5G corridor in New Delhi as part of its testing of the technology. State-run operator BSNL has partnered with Ciena to conduct field trials of 5G technology.
India has the potential to become one of the five largest data centre markets globally. In the last few years, there has been a radical shift in the way Indians produce and consume data. A number of government initiatives and regulations will see further increases in internet users and enforce strict data residency laws that will require vastly more data centre capacity. There will be a rapid increase in the rate at which on-premise facilities are being outsourced to third-party data centres, especially as cloud computing continues to grow.
Accordingly, India's telecom industry is expected to see a major expansion of its network infrastructure during the 2019 to 2022 period. Each of the top three mobile operators - Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea - are now planning to extend coverage to address a surge in data consumption.
The fixed line market in India remains highly underdeveloped due to the dominance of the mobile segment. Further, the number of fixed telephone lines is slowly declining as the mobile segment continues to expand. The fixed broadband market is similarly stagnant due to the dominance of mobile broadband; fixed broadband penetration is expected to grow at a moderate rate over the next five years to 2024 from this very small base.
Newcomer Reliance Jio has begun offering a home broadband service – one of its four engines of connectivity revenue, with the others being nationwide IoT, enterprise broadband, and broadband for small and medium businesses.
The digital economy will help the country align to its goals of expanding the wider Indian economy as well as enhancing jobs. Sectors such as communications - including telecoms, IT services, eCommerce, FinTech and electronics manufacturing - are growing at a good pace, and in the coming years these sectors will expand further, contributing to the country's digital economic growth.
The Department of Electronics & Information Technology of India published its Internet of Things policy estimating the IoT industry in India will grow very strongly. Focus areas include agriculture, health, water quality, natural disasters, transportation, security, automobile, supply chain management and smart cities. The adoption of IoT in India has been advancing slowly with Indian enterprises.