200 M broadband users in India by 2015: crazy or plausible ?

In an earlier post, I stated that I think there will be 200 M broadband connections (access speed > 1 Mbps) by 2015. I got some feedback that the prediction seems unrealistic (some called it crazy) given that there are less than 10 M broadband connections today and probably less than 2 M connections with speeds greater than 1 Mbps. I agree that a 10-100X increase in the number of BB connections in 5 years is aggressive. Its also plausible. Here are some factoids to keep in mind:

  1. A MediaTek chip set based 3G phone (with a 2-2.5” screen) costs $ 35 to make (BOM cost) and sells for $ 50-60
  2. iPhone copycat phones are available for $ 70-100 today on ebay
  3. There are 200M + mobile internet users in China today, and projected to grow to 1 B+ by 2015
  4. 3 G data access costs $3-10/month in China today, see link

Is it crazy to think that by 2015, mobile phones with 3.5” screen size and features similar to the iPhone 4 will cost $ 50 (Rs 2500)? Or that iPad like tablets will be available for $100 (Rs 5000) ? Or that netbooks will cost less than $ 150 (Rs 7,500)? Or that an always on broadband connection will cost most consumers less than $ 10/month (Rs 500)?

If you believe the above, then, why is it hard to believe that there will be 125 M+ mobile (smart) phones with 3/4 G connections, and another 100 M PCs/tablets/net books with broadband access ?

If you buy into my vision of ubiquitous broadband in India, then the following questions arise?

  1. Which OS/platform will dominate? Will incumbents like Microsoft and Nokia maintain leadership in the new paradigm? Will the iPhone become the way to access the web in India? Or will India be the country where Google first takes market leadership with Android and Chrome? And will it matter who wins?
  2. How will consumers discover content and applications? Will the web paradigm of Google.com being the start page extend to the mobile web? Or will operators continue to exert the same stranglehold that they do on SMS/VAS services?
  3. What will be the killer application? Communication or shopping or gaming or….Will FB dominate mobile social networking? Or will networks like RockeTalk and SMS GupShup be the new Facebook?
  4. What will be the payment platform? Will Indian consumers take the plunge and begin to make on-line payments via credit/debit cards? And do credit/debit cards have adequate penetration to be relevant? Or will the ease of use of pre-paid cards win the day?

Let me know what you think?

About Ashu

General Partner with Foundation Capital. Areas of interest range from digital media, mobile and internet infrastructure to all things related to India. Currently on the board of TreeHouse, Aspire, Conviva, Agni and TubeMogul.
This entry was posted in India, Internet, Mobile. Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to 200 M broadband users in India by 2015: crazy or plausible ?

  1. Rajeev Suri says:

    Good inputs Ashu…

    My take, the ABC mantra is gold in india- content driven thro Astrology, Bollywood and Cricket are timetested, or so every aggregator and app developer seems to think…

    However, there are disturbing trends- as arpus fall (and they have been continuously), folks are in a furious search for alternative revenues, and are doing anything to get there. in the name of VAS and data, through a flurry of rather spurious practices, they get revenues from gullible consumers who mistakenly click an sms blast and end up increasing their monthly bills by about 30-40%, and worse, have to go thro enormous hoops before they can be unsubscribed. And guess what, the ones that are newly subscribed and are not as savvy as the educated ones fall more for this than anyone else…

    typical india- ruthless, aggressive and barely legal…

  2. Pingback: Mobile OSs/Platforms: will Apple win in India ? « Global Choupal

  3. Ashu says:

    Rajeev – agree with you on both the power of “ABC” and the fact that spurious practices are widespread. With time, the spurious practices will die down as consumers become more sophisticated and number portability kicks in.

    • Dennis says:

      Calculation of laptop users/plane need to icrnrpooate last point also.% travelers who carry laptops: Business 90%, Leisure 0%So, 55.5*90% ~ 50 users/plane.other way is Business class users = 10%*(100% * 90%)+90%*(30% * 90%) = 33.3%So total laptop users per plane = 33.3% * 75% = 25%No. of laptop users/plane = 25% * 200 = 50

  4. Dipankar says:

    Look at this

    NEW DELHI: The number of high-speed Internet users is likely to touch 275 million from nine million by 2015, as telecom firms roll out Broadband Wireless Acess (BWA) air waves that were auctioned in June, a study said.

    “Recent broadband wireless auctions, in which operators were allocated spectrum, come as a much-needed respite for the future of broadband adoption in India,” the study by Assocham and Frost & Sullivan said.

    The two institutions expect the deployment of BWA to begin in this fiscal itself.

    Considering that around 43 per cent Internet subscribers were still using conventional dial-up connections at the end of 2009, there is a lot of potential to migrate existing subscribers to high-speed services, it added.

    BWA spectrum enables high-speed Internet access as well as Internet telephony and TV services. It can also be used for voice and high-speed data services.

    In BWA, the government auctioned two slots of 20 MHz each. Internet Service Provider Infotel emerged as the only pan-India winner for BWA spectrum.

    On the current low level of broadband penetration (nine million), the study said it was due to factors such as insufficient wire line infrastructure, fragmented local cable operators network and usage rates, and delays in awarding spectrum.

    The study further said that mobile handset manufacturers stand to gain from the roll-out of 3G services by private operator

  5. Pingback: Tablets: not a cheaper PC, but a better mobile phone… | Global Choupal

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