There's a burgeoning smartphone market in India and mobile operators have yet to take advantage of it. Ericsson believes that the number of smartphone users in India will grow up to 520 million by 2020.
In a news release obtained by the Indian media, Ericsson predicts that the smartphone penetration rate in India, which is currently only at 10% or 90 million users in 2013 will jump up to 45% or 520 million users in 2020. The company also says that the number of mobile broadband users in the country will increase from the 795 million subscribers last year to 1,145 million subscribers in 2020. That would account for a 69% rise in the number of mobile broadband users in a six-year period.
Ericsson also estimates that the average data usage per month of 155 MB in 2013 will more than double to 390 MB per month in 2017 and will reach up to 620 MB per month in 2020.
"Consumers' value broadband and their expectations around experience are evolving fast. A few years ago, access needs were limited to 'some-time,' today it is 'real-time' and it is moving towards being connected all the time with access to high-quality content," says Ericsson India head of marketing and strategy Ajay Gupta. "Smartphones and MBB (mobile broadband) services are becoming more affordable. As a result, we are seeing the advent of a new networked society in India as in other parts of the world that will benefit consumers and businesses alike."
The use of mobile broadband in India continues to rise, with social media, web browsing and chat apps such as WhatsApp, BBM and Line accounting for almost one-third of the country's mobile traffic. However, in spite of the growing demand for better mobile services, only around one-third of the roughly one-billion population are able to access the Internet over a mobile network.
Ericsson believes that for operators to fully monetize their broadband services, they need to invest in three key areas: network ubiquity, consistent app coverage and personalized charging models.
"Consumers today expect ubiquitous and high-performing networks everywhere they go. At the same time, different applications being used by consumers require more and more from the networks," says Nishant Betra, head of engagement practices at Ericsson India.
As an example, Betra cites social media, where the main experience is all about sharing text and images. In the near future, Betra believes social media will expand to cover video sharing and mobile operators will have to grow their coverage to allow their subscribers to be able to share high-definition online videos in real time.
The International Telecommunications Union, in a report released earlier this month, says 50% of all data users in 2014 will come from developing nations in the Asia-Pacific region. India, whose smartphone user base has not yet reached its saturation point, is expected to be fertile ground for mobile companies.