KOCHI: The mobile revolution in India was swifter than internet penetration, thanks to the entry of global telecos and availability of affordable mobile handsets.
But when it comes to internet on mobiles, the growth story is rather bleak, with most of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) struggling to offer a reliable low-speed 2 mbps connection.
Ironically, small countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, Costa Rica and Brazil are way ahead of us in terms of offering minimum broadband speed. On the other hand, the minimum broadband speed in India is 512 kbps. Just recently, state-run BSNL increased it to 2 mbps, which is also for the first few giga bytes only.
China leads the pack with more than 60 crore internet users or roughly 21.97 per cent of the worldwide internet users. Currently, India has the third largest internet user base, but is estimated to overtake the US, as the second largest market by December. The advent of 4G is considered a game changer for mobile internet penetration and help telcos and ISPs add more subscribers.
4G, also known as LTE or Long Term Evolution, is the 4th generation of mobile network technology and promises data speeds of up to 10 times faster than current mobile data speeds.
“The 4G technology is going to change the way people used mobile internet in the past. It will make music streaming and downloads much faster and efficient. The infrastructure is well in place in many parts of the country. The new technology will bring in a sea-change in the internet usage in India,” George Mathen, Hub CEO, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Airtel.
According to Abhijit Kishore, Business Head-Kerala, Vodafone India, “4G services in the 1800 MHz band will provide a faster and enhanced experience for the customers. Brands like Micromax, Yu, Xolo, Lava, Intex and others are actively launching budget Android smartphones. Other Chinese and big brands like Apple, Samsung, HTC, Sony, Gionee, Xiaomi are also launching 4G devices in India.”
As per the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the number of internet users in India is expected to reach 40.2 crore by December, 2015, registering a growth of 49 per cent over the previous year. Interestingly, much of this growth, or about 30.6 crore, will access internet from mobile devices, up from 27.6 crore in October this year.
“With the onset of the digital era, the company is now well poised to take the mobile users to the next level of digital experience through 4G LTE technology. We have invested in spectrum acquisition and network infrastructure to initiate the launch of 4G LTE services in 10 service areas in the country, starting calendar year 2016,” said Ambrish Jain, Deputy Managing Director, Idea Cellular.