Aug 30, 2008
India - Every second indian to be mobile by 2012
NEW DELHI: With India now adding 8 to 10 million mobile subscribers every month, as much as half the nation's population or one in every two citizens will own a mobile phone in India by the middle of 2012. According to Business Monitor International, a renowned London-based research firm, 612 million mobile subscribers by 2012 will help India clock a mobile teledensity of roughly 51% by 2012. This scorching pace of growth is unlikely to falter unless the sector faces unforeseen policy disasters or if India's operators fail to roll out their networks. International Telecom Union's (ITU) projections are in the same range. India is already the world's second largest mobile market, behind China's 500 plus million mobile subscriber base. Increasing incomes, changing lifestyles and lower cost of technology are allowing more and more Indians to ride the telecom wave. The new numbers overtake earlier estimates, including from UBS, Citigroup and Credit Suisse predicting a mobile population of between 400 to 450 million by March 2010. Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers have been more even conservative, betting on a base of just 400 million by 2010. However, India will reach this milestone in 2009 itself. India's mobile revolution has been a huge social leveler, with the growing number of users tying a diverse nation in a manner rarely seen before. Its youth are expected to contribute significantly to these surging numbers. Sir Richard Branson, founder, Virgin Group, which tied up with Tata Teleservices to launch branded services in India recently said, "An exciting market, with more than 215 million Indians aged between 14 and 25 years. Over the next three years we expect to be adding 50 million new youth subscribers". While companies like Virgin are focused on urban market, it is clear that next set of growth will come from B and C category cities and rural India. Mobile penetration of this magnitude has the ability to revolutionalize long distance learning and health care reaching some of the most far flung terrains. Where content is concerned most analysts agree that, largely on the back of India's film industry, music services will grow fast, even if other content related revenue lags behind. Given that a reasonable part of the population by 2010 will be children below 14 and senior citizens, it seems mobile access amongst the youth and working classes will be more in the range of 70% - 80%.