COMMUNICASIA : Mobile telecoms driving India’s development

Though China continues to be the main Asian focus for the world’s telecommunication vendors, other Asian countries, India in particular, are beginning to emerge as important market drivers in their own right and are worth closer attention, according to Dilip Modi, chief executive officer of Spice Communications Ltd.’s Spice Telecom unit.

“The decade from 2000 to 2010 can be seen as the Asian mobile decade,” he said during a presentation at the Asian Telecommunications Industry Exchange forum here Wednesday. “Even though mobile phone penetration in Asia is only eight per cent overall, that still amounts to 282 million subscribers.”

Developing economies will drive the growth of the mobile market, with penetration in Asia expected to triple by 2007, at a time when subscriber growth in developed markets is falling to nearly zero, Modi said.

India is already the world’s fourth-largest economy when viewed in GDP/PPP (gross domestic product/purchasing power parity) terms, behind the U.S., China and Japan, and will be the third-largest by 2020, Modi said.

“In countries like the U.S., mobile (telephony) was a value-added service because there was already 80 per cent penetration of fixed lines,” he said. “But in India, mobile telephony is a basic telecommunication service, especially in rural areas.”

Recent figures show that there are 36 million mobile subscribers in India out of a population of 1.1 billion, with two million subscribers being added each month.

The number of mobile subscribers in India will overcome the number of fixed subscribers later this year, Modi said. Furthermore, India has a large number of young people capable of quickly becoming familiar with mobile technologies, with 41 per cent of the country’s population under 15 years of age, Modi said.

“Mobile technology is proving to be life improving, life changing and even life saving in India,” Modi said. “Widespread affordable telecoms correlates to economic development.”

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