Telecom operators have increased spending on expanding 3G services and 90 percent of five service areas, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, will be covered by the end of next year, equipment maker Ericsson says.
“Telecom operators are now spending on increasing their 3G network coverage. We expect that 90 per cent of all A-category circles will have 3G coverage by end of next year,” Ericsson India’s Vice President and Head of Engagement Practices Nishant Batra told PTI. He said that demand social media, video content is pushing demand for high speed mobile internet but back-end infrastructure of most of Indian telecom operators needs to be upgraded from old technology to next generation technology based networks. “Telecom operators need more carriers (spectrum slot) to deliver high speed. Ericsson with Turkcell and Qualcomm recently successfully demonstrated world’s first live 3-carrier high-speed downlink (3C-HSDPA) on a commercial network which recorded speed of 63 megabit per second,” he said.
In India, telecom operators holding 3G spectrum have only one slot of 5 Mhz 3G spectrum. Ericsson estimated that using single spectrum slot, which is condition at present, telecom operators can deliver peak download speed of 21 mbps. At this speed, a user can download a video equivalent to bollywood movie in about 4 minutes. “Some of the telecom operators won spectrum in 900 Mhz in February auction. They can combine their spectrum in 2100 Mhz (3G spectrum) with 900 Mhz and create more carrier that can also give good 3G speed. However, network as well as consumer devices needs to be upgraded,” Batra said.
Ericsson estimated that by using two slots a telecom operator can deliver mobile internet speed of about 42 mbps. Batra said that most of the devices being sold in India at low price don’t support very high speed that 3G can deliver. “Most of the devices in India are not geared to support peak speed of 21 mbps that operators can deliver using single carrier,” Batra said. Ericsson estimates that India’s mobile subscriber base will grow to 1,145 million subscribers by 2020.
Simultaneously, smartphone penetration will grow from 10 per cent or 90 million devices in 2013 to 45 per cent or 520 million devices. The telecom gear maker estimates that India’s mobile broadband (generally 3G or 4G) user base is expected to grow four times by 2020 to reach 500 million subscribers.