If the recent reports are to be believed, rural India is finally on a upward slope in terms of the update of 4G services. Per a recent study carried out by CMR, India had around 238 million 4G subscribers in India by December 2017. Interestingly, of these, 83 million came out of rural areas. This is 35 percent of the total subscribers, which the report says means that one out of every third 4G subscribers in the country is from a rural region.
The CMR report also estimates that by 2020, 35 percent of the 4G subscribers would be using a feature phone, taking the overall 4G subscriber count to 432 million in India. Which is almost double the current count. Apparently, the remaining 81 percent of the subscribers in India will be using 4G over a smartphone including the ones based on Android Oreo (Go Edition). This is essentially Google’s new Android OS, which is optimized for lower configuration smartphones.
Reliance Jio, the newest player in the telecom industry, is often credited with bringing 4G in to India, but over the past two years, Jio has also made its competitors like Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea Cellular ramp up their technologies. As a result of that, lately we have seen telcos heavily investing in 4G networks.
Watch: Everything you need to know about Google Go
Reliance Jio, with 160 million subscribers at the end of December 2017, has only managed to increase 122 percent (88 million) subscribers in the year 2017. Incumbent mobile operators, on the other hand, reportedly saw an increase of 457 percent (64 million).
“Though laggards, incumbents have managed to increase their 4G subscriber base 3.8 times more than the disruptor operator Jio during 2017. This could be attributed to incumbents aligning their 4G offering to that of Jio in terms of price as well as content,” said Faisal Kawoosa, Head – New Initiatives, CMR. “The early adaptors were leveraged by Jio primarily in the urban space and as incumbent operators got ready with their 4G in full scale, they focused on rural markets to look for growth,” added Faisal.