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Promising Applications: Mobile internet services gain ground

August 01, 2013

After a slow start, internet and broadband service uptake in India gained momentum in 2012. The country’s broadband user base increased from 14.98 million in the quarter ended December 2012 to 15.05 million in March 2013. Meanwhile, the number of internet subscriptions grew from 21.57 million to 21.61 million over the same period.

A notable trend in this segment was the increase in the number of customers accessing internet and data services through mobile handsets. As of March 2013, the country had 143.2 million wireless data subscribers. As per Nokia Siemens Networks’ MBit Index, 2G data services (GPRS/EDGE) accounted for two-thirds of the total mobile data usage in 2012. Meanwhile, the share of 3G in the total mobile data transactions increased from 25 per cent in mid-2012 to 33 per cent by end-2012. As per the report, 3G emerged as the preferred mobile access technology in India in 2012.

Industry analysts believe that 3G-based mobile broadband will drive growth in the internet market. There are several factors that are likely to support this growth, including the increasing availability of affordable 3G-enabled smartphones and growing demand from the enterprise segment. The medium also presents a more viable business case than fixed line-based broadband connectivity. Overall, mobile broadband is expected to not only enhance the performance of telecom operators’ networks, transform existing service delivery channels and enhance revenue, but also support many new applications.

According to Comviva, the Indian value-added services market is currently centred on music, video and text. With the increasing uptake of 3G mobile broadband, this market will soon be dominated by multi-service offerings across various categories and will also include applications like m-commerce, m-health, m-governance, m-advertising and m-education.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), mobile broadband is expected to have a positive impact on m-services. For instance, at present, mobile-based banking transactions are at a nascent stage in India and are expected to grow rapidly with increasing mobile broadband uptake. The financial services sector could effectively leverage mobile broadband to reach the large number of unbanked customers across the country.

Mobile broadband is also expected to play a significant role in integrating rural India with other parts of the country, and help widen markets, improve information flow and lower transaction costs.

Based on the requirement and likely usage of mobile broadband, customers can be categorised into two broad segments – enterprise and non-enterprise. The enterprise segment includes businesses and the government, while the non-enterprise segment comprises urban and rural home users.

By 2015, in line with the trends in overseas markets, PwC expects that mobile broadband in India will largely be used for web browsing. Music services are likely to witness the second highest uptake, followed by application stores as well as video calling, enterprise, telemedicine, tele-education, m-commerce, and government services. PwC expects mobile broadband services to generate revenues of Rs 940 billion by 2015.

tele.net takes a look at some of the broadband-based applications and services that are currently popular in the country…

 Key applications for the urban segment

•   Internet browsing and social networking

•   Location-based information through apps such as Google Maps

•   Video calling, mobile gaming, music and video downloads and/or streaming

•    Mobile banking and commerce

•   Tele-counselling, tele-education and telemedicine services

•   Easy access to government and utility services.

 Key applications for the rural segment

•  Information pertaining to selling, procurement as well as support for farm commodities

• Educating the farming community on best practices

•  Delivery of information with regard to health care and education to remote villages

•   Availability of news and entertainment-related content in regional languages

•   Easy access to government services.

 Mobile broadband usage in the enterprise and the government segments

In the case of enterprises, mobile broadband applications like sales force automation and location-based services (tracking and monitoring of goods, inventory, etc.) can result in increased productivity while trimming overheads. Mobile broadband will also facilitate tele-working, wherein employees can carry out their daily tasks from remote areas.

Meanwhile, for the government, mobile broadband can be leveraged as an effective medium for improved delivery of public services, leading to better governance and more inclusive development.

In sum, mobile broadband has huge potential to push growth in the internet and broadband segment.

 
 

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