But it’s not just India, voice is a decreasing business globally, and data has increased dramatically to take up the slack (see graphs 2 and 3). Indeed, that’s why India’s broadband internet targets are 75 million by 2012, 175 million by 2017 and 600 million by 2020. Right now, if you include 3G subscribers, which you should because mobile broadband is really the way forward (by 2011, smartphones outstripped both PCs and laptops), India has about 40 million broadband subscribers, or around half last year’s target.
Getting even near the targets requires two things—cheaper smartphones and enough spectrum. From R25,000 or so for smartphones in March 2010, we are now down to smartphones that cost around R5,000, but this probably needs to fall to R2,500 or so to get really mass market. India’s real problem, however, doesn’t lie here.
It lies in the huge spectrum scarcity. Look at graph 4 to see how data guzzles spectrum. From 80 petabytes of spectrum in Q1 2007, major global voice networks used up around 190 petabytes in Q3FY12. In contrast, data networks, which barely consumed anything then, consume around
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