India is the second largest mobile market in the world .The mobile penetration in the country is close to 72%, and close to 95% of mobile subscribers use prepaid recharge plans.
An interesting fact is that India has around 916 million cell phone connections, but only 312 million subscribers. This basically means that on average, each user has around 3 SIM cards.
This is because most subscribers in India tend to switch prepaid SIM cards connections based on the newest and most economical prepaid plans.
There are various reasons for such a high usage of prepaid mobile services. Some of them are
Ease of acquiring a prepaid connection without annual contracts
Cost effective prepaid recharge packages provided by various operators
Availability of various online recharge websites for easy mobile top up using credit card, debit card, net banking and ATM cards.
Prepaid mobile connections are best suited for those with medium to low usage habits, and do not want to enter into monthly contracts.
Currently, a lot of mid-market mobile subscribers prefer value added services such as broadband 3G internet, online media like images and video, caller tunes, etc.
Prepaid mobile recharge SIM connections can be bought over the counter at most mobile vendors and dealers. In contrast, post paid connections require a lot of formalities like personal ID proof, address proof, document verification, minimum monthly payments etc.
There are also age limits when it comes to getting a post-paid connection, which puts young users like students at a disadvantage.
Postpaid connections are also popular due to increased control over mobile usage, and subscribers have the option of easily switching over to a competitor’s network if the pricing model is not favourable.
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India boasts of over 150 million users accessing internet using mobile phones, smart phones, PDAs, Tablets and laptops every day. In the past decade there has been an exponential growth in broadband internet connections with over 16.08 million subscribers.
A number of private internet providers have entered the market with their private broadband infrastructure, and have a range of options when it comes to both wired and wireless internet data access.
Options available now include wireless internet data cards, dongles, e-sticks, USB data card sticks, 2G/3G/4G/LTE mobile internet and high speed broadband internet plan.
Online data cards – USB sticks, dongles, e-sticks etc.
Wireless data card or e-sticks provide subscribers the ability to get online anywhere in India, 24X7, without the need for a fixed internet connection.
This is especially helpful for working professionals, travelling salesmen, and other users who need internet access on the go. There are various internet data card providers in India with different quality of service, speed, cost and connectivity.
3G mobile internet
3G mobile internet gives subscribers the ability to make video calls, play online games, check emails, surf internet, access online TV, update social network profiles and download files.
A smartphone with a prepaid or postpaid mobile connection with internet access as an add-on /value added is another option to access internet on the go.
Leading mobile phone service providers offer 2G, 3G, LTE internet services through data cards. The main advantage of these data cards is portability, mobility and ability to recharge the data card online.
Leading players in the online data card recharge market include Tata Photon plus, MTS MBlaze and Reliance NetConnect. 3G mobile internet providers include Airtel, BSNL, Idea, and Aircel.
The advantage of using mobile phones for accessing internet on the go is that there is no need to use dongles or USB e-sticks, and the mobile can use used as a wireless internet hotspot.
There is an increasing trend towards using rich applications and video services on the go. This means that users are demanding more than the usual speeds that come with a typical 2G connection.
Even though 3G providers are working towards laying down a strong strategy to provide broadband mobile, the cost of delivering it is quite high. Right now is is the CDMA players like Tata Photon plus, Reliance Netconnect and MTS MBlaze who are ruling the roost when it comes to high speed mobile Internet access through data cards.
When it comes to online recharge, pricing is probably the most crucial. Mobile internet providers are experimenting with innovative pricing models.
Online data card recharge tariffs have various pricing models such Pay as you go, Standard, Sachet, FlexiShield, Volume-based recharges and so no.
There is also cost-effective bundling with handsets and tariff plans with value added features like mobile TV, mobile gaming etc. Subscribers tend to prefer the e-sticks and dongles due to its ease of use.
Improvement in 3G mobile internet services has been taking place for a while, but for now users are still going for internet data cards as their first choice when it comes to mobile internet.
Here are 3 basic televisions medium in India: Analog (cable TV), digital Set Top Boxes (STB), and digital Direct to Home (DTH). Analog cable TV has been around for over 25 years but is essentially limited in the range of channels, features and value added services. Digital services like STB and DTH come with superior audio and video quality and have attracted a large number of subscriber base in India.
The Indian DTH industry revenue for 2012 was close to $ 1.6 billion with around 33 million subscribers (the user based is forecasted to grow to 82 million by 2020). The forecast for the Direct-To-Home (DTH) market share in India is close to $ 5.3 billion by 2020. India is expected to become the largest direct to home (DTH) market in the world. Government of India’s DAS (digitization of cable signals) drive has given a boost to online DTH recharge subscription industry.
Zee’s Dish TV is the market leader with 27% market share, and Videocon d2h comes a close second. Tata Sky has 18% share and Airtel Digital TV has 21% market share.
DAS (digitization of cable signals) is being rolled out in four waves.
Wave 1: the four leading metros in India (Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkota) transitioned to set top boxes (STBs) by December 31, 2012
Wave 2: 38 India cities across 15 states switched to set top boxes (STBs) by March 31, 2013.
Wave 3: All India urban areas have been mandated to transition to STBs by September 30, 2014
Wave 4: all of India has to move to STBs by December 31, 2014
This has ensured fierce competition in the digital cable services and digital DTH services. The Indian DTH industry today has 6 service providers –
Airtel Digital TV
Reliance Digital TV
The DTH market in India has grown quite rapidly in the past few years. In 2012, 22% of Indian households have at least one STB (expected to grow to 39% by 2015 and close to 50% by 2020). DTH penetration is projected to reach 90% in the long-term. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has given recommendations to increase the FDI limit in DTH to 74 percent from the 49 percent. This will promote consolidation in the DTH market. TRAI has also recommended that FDI in IPTV and mobile TV be capped at 74 percent.
Also, the rural market is turning out to be a larger revenue contributor than the urban counterparts. At present, out of 26 million DTH users, 62% are from rural areas and smaller towns in India. Increased disposable income along with innovative marketing by the DTH providers is responsible for this. Availability of low cost regional language channels is contributing to rural DTH growth.
To add to the DTH drama, public broadcaster DD Direct Plus is threatening the stronghold of the six private DTH providers (Tata Sky , Airtel Digital TV, Reliance Big TV, Videocon D2H, Zee Dish TV, and Sun Direct) which have more than 22 million users at present. Government of India is investing close to 82 crore rupees in DD Direct Plus with the aim of doubling its current subscriber base to over 14 million in the next 2 years.