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for one gigabyte (GB), whereas in India data tariffs are around $3-3.5 per GB.
“3G device penetration in India is currently only 10-11% despite the fact that device costs have fallen to around R3,500. In LTE (4G), smartphone costs are upwards of R20,000, moreover devices are restricted to dongles,” the Bharti executive said.
He was also quick to point out that voice services will continue to be a strong offering in India. “Around 80% of the Indian market will continue to be feature phones in the next couple of years, which would use a lot of voice-based services. Moreover, companies are able to price data rates low because it sits on the legacy of established voice networks,” the Airtel executive added.
He, however, said that limited spectrum availability, and lack of fibre connectivity are “big challenges” that could limit data usage explosion. According to a recent Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs forecast, data traffic on metro networks will increase 560% by 2017 mainly driven by demand for video.