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3G SIMs to grow to 400 million by 2020 from 70 million: Ericsson

Friday, 9 May 2014 - 6:40am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Ericsson is looking to start offering two new network solutions for 3G and 4G to Indian telcos by the second half of this year

With the rapid shift in focus from voice to data by Indian telcos, 3G subscribers can soon look forward to an improved mobile streaming and surfing experience.

Providing some colour on Ericsson's predictions for consumer mobile broadband growth in India, Ajay Gupta, vice president and head of strategy and marketing for Ericsson, said Ericsson estimates that India's mobile subscriber base will grow from 795 million in 2013 to 1,145 million subscribers by 2020. Simultaneously, smartphone penetration will grow from 10% (or 90 million devices) in 2013 to 45% (or 520 million devices), against 50 billion global connected devices by 2020. "We also expect to see 3G SIMs to grow from 70 million SIMs today to 400 million SIMs by 2020, and 4G SIMS should number 100 million in the same period."

Accordingly, operators are doing four things to improve quality of 3G network that has been inconsistent, switching between 3G and 2.5G even four years after 3G was launched in India in 2010.

Rajan Matthews, director general, Cellular Operators Association of India, said, "Firstly, by October, telcos that have participated in the February 900 MHz and 1800 MHz auction will receive the spectrum won by them from the Department of Telecom. This is because till November, certain telcos have valid spectrum-linked licenses which they need to surrender to the new winners who can in turn use it for 3G or 4G services. Secondly, operators have committed to increasing their investment for 3G networks substantially from $2-3 billion last year to $8-10 billion this fiscal, as all holders of 3G and 4G spectrum have to roll out services by mid next year to meet the license obligations. Thirdly, towers rollout for 3G services are expected to increase to 70,000-80,000 in FY15. And fourthly, telcos are actively working with network service providers on more efficient solutions for better 3G services."

Social media, which currently makes up one-third of all mobile broadband data traffic at 15% is expected to drive 3G usage going forward. This will be closely followed by browsing at 11%, app downloads at 11%, chat at 7% and video at 4%, as per the report by Ericsson.

Talking to dna, Nishant Batra, vice president and head of engagement practices for Ericsson, said, "While we have been working with all telcos to offer multi standard radio (MSR) for more efficient 2G, 3G and 4G coverage and capacity since the last two years, earlier this year we launched the Psi solution for cost-efficient 3G coverage in semi-urban and rural areas in India, and in the second half of the year, we will be launching Ericsson Radio Dot System (ERDS) with Indian operators that promises better in-building capacity, especially for high-rises."

Ericsson company sources also confirmed working with Reliance Jio for 4G network solutions.

"From a managed services perspective also, we expect to roll out our Ericsson Experience-Centric Operations (ECO) with telcos shortly, that ensure enhanced customer experience by improving tools and processes, service-level agreements (SLAs) and key-performance indicators (KPIs), instead of traditional managed services offerings for network performance and availability only," Batra said.

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