The Coming 3G Revolution?

It appears we are weeks away from private carriers finally launching 3G services in India. The first revolution was voice calls with the launch of mobile networks in India. What really led to mass adoption was a price war that was kicked off by Ambani’s Reliance Communications which led to very low ARPU’s for carriers.

Will data be the next revolution for the mobile carriers? Personally, I think the next revolution will occur if the carriers price their offering at what people currently pay for their voice services. So if the average ARPU is currently Rs. 200 per month, I would expect plans to start at that price.  More importantly they really need to let the bits fly through the networks and offer an unlimited data plan or have a “fair-use” policy that starts at 30GB or so per month.

Yes, that sounds like a pie in the sky wishlist but if they misprice on the initial launch they will loose a lot of pent up demand since everyone is expecting low prices. I don’t expect a carrier like Tata Docomo to throw down the pricing gauntlet. Thankfully, Mukesh Ambani is back in the telecom space after acquiring a 95% stake in Infotel for USD 1 billion dollars.  Infotel has a WiMax license for the entire country and could offer low costs data plans and thus push the prices of 3G services down as well.

The first revolution for voice is still talked about and I hope it continues with data or the Indian mobile market will end up being a one hit wonder.

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