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State of Indian Broadband (2013)

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on September 25, 2013

The importance of broadband penetration as a GDP driver isnt lost on anyone – especially in a state like India – and while the internet connectivity in India hovers at the 10% level – there’s quite simply so much more that is to be done to enhance the state of broadband in India.

A recent report from Broadband Commission For Digital Development, a United Nations set-up, launched by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Educational states That broadband in India has already generated nearly 9 million direct and indirect jobs, while a 1% increase in broadband penetration has potential to add US$2.7 bn or 0.11% to Indian GDP in 2015.

India ranks a distant 122nd worldwide in Fixed Broadband Penetration per 100 residents.Third world countries like Tonga and Kyrgyzstan are ahead of India
India also ranks a far-off 106th in the Mobile Broadband Penetration across the world per 100 residents.
In terms of households with Internet for developing countries, India ranks better at 75.
Percentage of Individuals using the Internet across the world, India is at 145 and among developing countries is at 98.

In 2011, India adopted the National Optical Fiber Network policy. The results are not obvious in the current time-frame.

India is also one of the first countries to launch LTE (4G telephony). This could accelerate service delivery in sectors ranging from health to public infrastructure, and thus drive a significant structural shift in consumer behaviour over the next few years. However from the current context India’s Broadband does cast an inadequate and be-littling picture.

Is there a Business case for LTE in India? (Part II)

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on October 22, 2011

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.

Is there a Business case for LTE in India? (Part I)

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on October 20, 2011

This post is the first of a two part series on the scenario around LTE network deployments in India.

Ten years of trailblazing performances and more, the Indian Telecom story needs a new super hero. This is necessitated by the demands of the bandwidth starved data hungry customers are placing an inordinate amount of pressure on the spectrum. The Indian government has been instrumental and forward planning to meet the challenges of increased data bandwidths. That is where 4G LTE services hold out a promise to provide super speed technology on high bandwidth spectrum.

Despite the initial success in field trials, a key question facing the operators is the financial viability and the unclear business models surrounding this emerging technology. Though the industry remains gung-ho about the potential of LTE TDD, it is imperative that the industry evaluates certain critical factors to decide on the business case of the technology. Of the 160 million broadband connections expected by the end of 2014, a good percentage is to come from LTE services which is expected to drive 60 per cent of next level mobile broadband growth.

However, post the lukewarm response to 3G, experts believe that operators need to have a viable business model, clear go-to-market strategy and a marketing campaign designed to target specific segments, niches and user segments of the society to make a business case from the soon-to-be launched Long Term Evolution Time Division Duplex (LTE TDD) technology. There has to be a proper strategy in place to make sure that all investment-related decisions (for LTE TDD) are being taken after due consideration. Operators are yet to make 3G a true business case in India, and if proper targets are not set, many operators may find it challenging to survive.

Contrarian to the earlier view, analysts also believe, what works in favor of operators in India is the relative lukewarm response to 3G, which leaves a lot of scope for LTE to make headway. However, on the flip-side, discouraging numbers for 3G uptake is likely to have some impact on LTE roll-out as well. If 3G has been unable to set the mobile broadband segment on fire in the country, what is it that LTE would offer which will make customers embrace it.

Digital Dividend: A solution to India’s Mobile Broadband needs

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on November 9, 2009

Last month Indian Telecom subscribers crossed 500 million. There are enough and more studies on the impact of telecom penetration on the economy. One study correlates 10% increase in tele-density to .6% increase in GDP. The canvas is $520 billion increase in GDP over 8 years time frame.

 The need is for a communications model that reaches out to the remotest citizen and low cost wireless solutions. The existing industry spectrums: 850MHz/ 900 MHz/1800 MHz are grossly inadequate for the traffic. The 3G option is being looked at as a solution providing greater bandwidth for voice and data traffic. Given the high 3G auction fees, the 3G option ensures service qualities at a high CAPEX and OPEX. High speed telecom networks would be the key for a long term momentum in the economy as suggested by McKinsey,2009.

  1. 3G investment in India will deliver over  $70 billion economic benefit
  2. India  would have gained over  $16 billion (PPP) in the last 2 years but for  delay in introduction of high speed mobile BB.
  3. 10% increase in broadband penetration can deliver  up to 1.4% increase in GDP

Dig Div IV

The spectrum: How it pans out and how the digital dividend is a part of it?

Digital compression technologies and coding systems make it possible to squeeze much more information into a radio signal than in the case of analogue technology. Digital TV is many times more spectrally efficient than analogue TV, which means UHF spectrum will be freed up. Large amount of spectrum that would be freed up in case of switchover from analogue to digital terrestrial TV is known as the Digital Dividend.

Refer to the slideshare presentation for a full description on the Digital Dividend:

The analogue TV switch-off represents a “once in a generation” opportunity for a significant reallocation of spectrum. This spectrum has excellent propagation characteristics and can be used very effectively to roll out mobile broadband services in rural areas and to provide in-building coverage. It is approximately 70% cheaper to provide mobile broadband coverage in the 698-806MHz band than at 2100MHz. This means networks can be rolled out quickly and cost-effectively, bringing cheaper services to consumers.Digital Dividend

It is approximately 70% cheaper to provide mobile broadband coverage at frequencies (approx. 800MHz) than over 2100MHz.This means networks can be rolled out quickly, cost effectively, bringing cheaper services to consumers.

As a technology the advantages of Digital Dividend over contemporary spectrum allocation are as follows:

  • Better propagation characteristics.
  • Ideal for providing wireless service in low population density regions, such as rural India
  • Target resource for rural broadband wireless access worldwide.
  • Less Infrastructure – Reduced costs
  • Reduce capital expenditure, which makes deployment in rural or high-cost regions economically viable.
  • An LTE network at 700 MHz would be 70% cheaper to deploy than an LTE network at 2.1 GHz  – GSMA.
  • Two to three times as many less sites required for initial coverage at 700 MHz compared to 2.1 or 2.5 GHz

Spectrum: Cost versus Coverage

DD 2Dig Div IIIDD3

Spectrum Infrastructure: 700 MHz versus Others!

Digital Dividend: The future in Mobile Communications

Posted in The Technology Ecosystem by Manas Ganguly on October 18, 2009

The govt of India, Telecom  Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Cellular operators association of India (COAI), Association of Unified Services Providers of India (AUSPI), Broadband wireless consortium of India (BWCI) and may industry apex bodies are single minded persuing three point agendas in the Indian telecom ecosystem.

1. Mobile Penetration

2. Lowering the costs associated with mobility / Allowing population to go “mobile”

3. Bundling services for the masses through mobiles.

According to studies by Telecom researchers and consultants, Thrust in rural telecom sector can increase GDP by $520 billion in next 8 years. ALso, a 10% increase in broadband penetration can deliver a 1.4% growth in GDP. Currently it is the best available opportunity of bringing 70% of Indian Population who love in far scattered rural areas to the mainstream. Thus the necesssity of a communications model which will reach out to the remotest rurak citizen at lowest capital and operational costs.

As with many other countries, Spectrum limitation and exponentially growing telecom subscribers are putting a lot of pressure on the existing spectrum (900/1800 MHz). The 2.1 and 2.5/2.6 GHz spectrum will have utilities more in 3G and higher end technologies. It is here, that a parallel innovation promises a lot of help. Traditionally TV spectrums have been very wide because of the fact that most of it is analogue. With the coming of Digital age, a large amount of spectrum will be freed up in case of switch over from analogue to digital signals. Digital compression technologies and coding systems make it possible to squeeze much more information into a radio signal than in the case of analogue technology.

Digital DividendDigital broadcasting is roughly six times more efficient than analogue, allowing more channels to be carried across fewer airwaves.The surplus spectrum not required for the Digital transmission is called the Digital Dividend.

  1. It is approximately 70% cheaper to provide mobile broadband coverage in the 698-806MHz band than at 2100MHz.

DD 2

      2.     Lower the spectrum, more the coverage per BTS, in effect reducing the number of BTSs required for an area coverage, which reduces the capex costs.

DD3

Both the reasons considered, a 700 MHz is twice the coverage of 3500 MHz at roughly 20% the cost. Indian Government willing, the Digital dividend could be the next step in connecting the masses in India and reaching out to them with information, technologies that would empower them and allow them to become “mainstream”.

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