Is there a Business case for LTE in India? (Part II)
This post is the second of a two part series on the scenario around LTE network deployments in India.Read First post here
Aircel and Bharti Airtel are believed to be targeting the enterprise segment. While the enterprise segment are the biggest in terms of data usage, the success of LTE will depend on the fact that there has to be a compelling reason for large enterprises to move to LTE network.Initial traction on Data services will depend on how well the vertical applications are engineered for key industry verticals. Verticals like healthcare and banking, which have to be always-on are likely to be the early adopters of LTE, provided applications are developed around them. In case this happens, it might be possible to expect a much higher ARPU from LTE. Having said that, going by the 3G experience, it is quite clear that price is going to be a critical factor (if not the deciding factor!) for the uptake of BWA services.
Further to this, the government needs to put in place a telecom policy that could be instrumental in regulatory guidance and support which would impact faster roll-outs of the services at reasonable tariffs. Unlike 3G auction mechanism, where spectrum licences were bought by operators had extremely high bids leaving precious little CAPEX for network roll outs and resulting in high and unreasonable tariffs (for recovery of investment), government needs to play a more inclusive role in successful 4G LTE roll outs. In the 3G auction case, the only winner was the government who made a handsome lot through the bidding process. This time, the government could keep the bids controlled, lease the spectrum, sponsor the networks infrastructure (or cost share) and foster network infrastructure sharing arrangements between the service providers. This would leave a pool for the Telecom sector where investments could be made into value added ancillary services which would promote usage of the network.
Besides enterprise segments, some operators might also be looking at the rural market initially for LTE services. Experts believe that it will be sometime before Indian operators expect returns from this new service. They might have made huge investments, but right now it is unclear as to how long the investment will take to make profit.