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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Five milestones for Indian telecom in 2010

By: Nilabh Jha| afaqs! Telecom Yatra | New Delhi, December 29, 2010 




2010 was a most eventful year for telecommunications in India. Although these events have had little impact this year, they are all set to transform the way we use mobile phones. We've counted the five most significant telecom events from the past year.

3G

The first one is obvious. 3G spectrum auctions were finally carried out and operators have started launching services. Tata emerged as the first company to launch 3G and other players that won spectrum are set to follow suit.

In 2011 we will have faster mobile broadband and better value added services. Video - something most of us wanted to, but could not enjoy on the existing network will be much better now.

LTE/WiMax

Another improvement in networks was announced at the auction of BWA spectrum. No operator has launched BWA services yet, and there is no official word on when they are planning to do so. However, it is expected that by the end of the first quarter the first BWA network will be in operation.

True broadband speeds are expected to be available in the country in 2011.

Cheaper smartphones

In 2010, smartphones were much talked about in India. Almost every month there were a couple of smartphones launched by companies such as Nokia, Samsung, HTC, Motorola and LG etc, but these phones were costly and though the segment grew by leaps and bounds, the share of smartphones in the mobile phone market remains low.

By the end of 2010 many Indian brands such as Micromax and Lemon announced smartphones that cost less than Rs 10,000. Even international brands have reduced the price of smartphones to just above Rs 10,000.

This trend is likely to intensify in 2011 - many chip makers have already announced cheap, but powerful chips. Samsung has announced a display technology that is better than the existing IPS panel and is cheaper to produce. Further, more and more Indian brands will enter the market, making it highly competitive.

Google has also announced that it will focus on low cost Android phones to increase the reach of the already popular Android OS.

Tablets

These devices became popular in 2010, but could not make a real impact in India. We already have two tablets available in India launched in the last quarter of 2010 - Samsung Galaxy Tab and Olive Tab from Olive communications, but both these tablets are still in the higher price bracket as they cost at around Rs 30,000.

Apart from price, the biggest hurdle is connectivity. Tablets are essentially mobile devices and to tap their full potential one needs good wireless connectivity, which will be in abundance in 2011 thanks to 3G and LTE services becoming main stream.

On the pricing front the good news is that there are many launches in the offing and with increased competition, prices are expected to go down. Even Indian players have announced plans for tablets, and will push the price further down.

Telecom Yatra has information from reliable sources that Reliance Infocom will bring tablets priced below Rs 8,000 for its LTE customers in India.

Number portability

There are many consumers who are not satisfied with their operator but cannot change their number as it has become their identity. Mobile number portability gives people the freedom to change their operator without changing while retaining their number. For now the service is only available in Haryana, but within a couple of months at least half the country will have 3G. The remaining half will not have to wait much longer either.

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