Mobile + Internet in India

Contradictory to my blog post on number of Internet Subscribers on Mobile phones in India, a new TRAI report is suggesting that 31.30 million users in India are accessing Internet through their mobile handsets—GSM or CDMA—to read and reply to mails, download content and for online transactions. Now that means 1 in every 5 Mobile users (considering 165 Million Mobile subscribers in India) is accessing Internet using their Mobiles. That is a ridiculously high number, one that does not reflect in the ARPU reported by the Indian Telcos. For e.g. Airtel charges anything from Rs 100 to 250 under different plans for one month of Internet access.

Something's amiss from this report. I have a good enough techie circle of friends who have Internet capable phones too, but hardly 5-10% of these are accessing Internet. I wonder how the number of users were calculated.

Anyways, all in all good news for the Mobile Content developers in (or targeting) India.

According to Indian Cellular Association (ICA) president Pankaj Mohindroo: “India sold 65 million handsets in 2006, of which 35 million were Net-enabled. The propensity to use Net on the mobile is very high and the figures would be much higher if sufficient bandwidth (spectrum) is made available for high-end data services and more websites have mobile-friendly content.” ICA tracks handset sales and trends.

Another good set of news is for SmartPhone makers like Microsoft.

About 5% of handsets sold in 2006 were smartphones—sophisticated devices mostly bought by corporate users—that allow execs to stay connected to the Web and their office intranet.

Phones with Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform, which commanded a 17% share of the new smartphone additions in 2006, has seen volumes grow four times year-on-year and are projected to cross the 200,000-unit mark in 2007.

And finally some good news for CDMA operators too.

After a year of declining average revenue per user (ARPU) per month for mobile services, signs of reversal are on the horizon. However, this is so far limited to operators offering services based on the CDMA technology. Blended ARPU for CDMA operators for January-March 2007 increased by 3.08% over the previous quarter to Rs 202 per month.
GSM service providers, on the other hand, maintained a declining trend, with blended ARPU falling from Rs 316 in the December 2006 quarter to Rs 298 in the three months ended March 2007, according to a survey by telecom regulator Trai.

Nearly 73% of subscribers use GSM technology in India and the rest are on the CDMA platform.

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