3G India 2008, an international conference on the rapidly growing technology, was held in Mumbai on October 17. The conference focussed on various issues concerning the growth and development of 3G technology in India, the opportunities and challenges.
3G technology facilitates higher speed and data throughputs enabling the delivery of a wide range of multimedia services such as video streaming, movie downloads, mobile TV and so on. 3G also facilitates the implementation of important e-initiatives such as e-governance, e-education, and tele-medicine.
The inaugural session of the 3G India Conference saw the participation of RN Prabhakar, Member TRAI, who was also the chief guest; Abhay Savargaonkar, Senior VP- 3G and Network Quality, Bharti Airtel Ltd; Sethumadhavan Srinivasan, Deputy Director, APAC Marketing, Huawei Telecommunications; J Gopal, Executive Director – Mumbai, MTNL; Pradeep Shrivastava, CMO, Idea Cellular; BV Raman, Country Head for India, CDMA Development Group.
Strategic issues, opportunities and challenges
Speaking on the trends, Abhay Savargaonkar said, “One of the encouraging signs we see today is that the wireless Internet access is the trend. Once wireless access becomes widely available on broadband, it would most definitely create more opportunities. Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia are few examples where 3G mobile broadband has given a boost to its revenue growth. Investment and the capacity of the investment possess a tough challenge before India.”
Raising concerns over the possibility of high-priced 3G handsets, Sarvargaonkar was of the opinion that, “If today 2G is booming, one of the big reasons is the low-priced handsets. This, however, is not the case with 3G. Opportunities are big, but we will have to make it happen.”
Sethumadhavan Srinivasan remarked, “3G is not our final destination, we have to think about going even beyond 3G technologies. The success of 3G will depend on innovative business models. There is no fixed rule to make 3G a success story in India; it is the need for an innovative service that matters most. To better 3G penetration in India, we most certainly need favourable regulations in terms of spectrum fees.”
Sharing the 3G success mantra, he continued, “It is creation and competition that are the two mantras for the success of 3G in India. There is a need for creating an enthusiasm of technology among the consumers, and 3G portals need not be the only goal of the operators.”
Elaborating further on policy and operation issues, Srinivasan said, “We need to create a level playing field that the spectrum is available at the earliest for the competitive services in the country. The many opportunities in 3G will provide easy mobile broadband access. Wireless broadband is the best way to increase penetration of broadband and in terms of ARPUs (Average Revenue per Users). Once deployed, 3G will allow companies to increase their ARPUs.”
On the challenges set before 3G launch in India, Srivastava said, “One of the big challenges set before us is the affordability of the 3G devices. Educating the customer on 3G is another challenge. 3G is most certainly going to be exciting, but also challenging. We need the infrastructural support and the handset, too, would be at an affordable price. The stakeholders should come together in order to see some good development. There is an opportunity to transform the society, which is possible as long as all of us can work together.”
MTNL’s J Gopal added here, “India has seen a year-on-year growth, however, it has also seen a declining ARPU. One of the advantages of 3G network is that it would give better voice clarity. It will shift the Internet largely to the mobile space and we can ensure a 3G success in India.”
Chief Guest RN Prabhakar observed, “We are anxiously waiting for 3G services in India. It is important for 3G services to be introduced in a logical manner. A matter of concern before us is the kind of bidding that would take place. It is equally challenging to attract consumers to 3G. The reason why ARPUs are on the decline is because the consumers are not able to see value for money. We need to concentrate more on customers. A proper working strategy will lead to the success of 3G services.”