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Introduction

India is currently the world’s second-largest telecommunications market with a subscriber base of 1.05 billion and has registered strong growth in the past decade. The Indian mobile economy is growing rapidly. The country is the fourth largest economy in the world.

The liberal and reformist policies of the Government of India have been instrumental along with strong consumer demand in the rapid growth in the Indian telecom sector. The government has enabled easy market access to telecom equipment and a fair and proactive regulatory framework that has ensured availability of telecom services to consumer at affordable prices.

The Indian telecom sector is expected to generate four million direct and indirect jobs over the next five years according to estimates by Randstad India. The employment opportunities are expected to be created due to combination of government’s efforts to increase penetration in rural areas and the rapid increase in smartphone sales and rising internet usage.

International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts India to overtake US as the second-largest smartphone market globally by 2017 and to maintain high growth rate over the next few years as people switch to smartphones and gradually upgrade to 4G.

Market Size

The mobile industry is expected to create a total economic value of Rs 14 trillion (US$ 217.37 billion) by the year 2020. It would generate around 3 million direct job opportunities and 2 million indirect jobs during this period.

The total number of telephone subscribers in the country rose by 11.13 per cent year-on-year to 1,151.78 million in the September-December quarter of 2016. The Indian telecommunication services market will likely grow by 10.3 per cent year-on-year to reach US$ 103.9 billion by 2020.

The revenue of mobile handset industry rose 22 per cent to Rs 1.36 trillion (US$ 21.12 billion) in 2016. In 2017, around 200 million mobile handsets will be made out of India out of the 270 million mobile handsets to be shipped.

Smartphone subscriptions in India is expected to increase four-fold to 810 million users by 2021, while the total smartphone traffic is expected to grow seventeen-fold to 4.2 Exabytes (EB) per month by 2021.

According to a study by GSMA, smartphones are expected to account for two out of every three mobile connections globally by 2020 making India the fourth largest smartphone market. India is expected to lead in the growth of smartphone adoption globally with an estimated net addition of 350 million by year 2020.Total number of smartphone shipments in India stood at 25.8 million units in the quarter ending December 2016, and smartphone shipments during 2016 stood at 109.1 million units, up by 5.2 per cent year-on-year. Broadband services user-base in India is expected to grow to 250 million connections by 2017.

Investment

With daily increasing subscriber base, there have been a lot of investments and developments in the sector. The industry has attracted FDI worth US$ 23.95 billion during the period April 2000 to March 2017.

Government Initiatives

The government has fast-tracked reforms in the telecom sector and continues to be proactive in providing room for growth for telecom companies. Some of the other major initiatives taken by the government are as follows:

  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) focuses on identifying issues that make it difficult to do telecom business in India like licence acquisition and spectrum allotment among others, and review them in order to simplify these processes to the maximum possible extent.
  • The Government of India plans to auction the 5G spectrum in bands like 3,300 MHz and 3,400 MHz to promote initiatives like Internet of Things (IoT), machine-to-machine communications, instant high definition video transfer as well as its Smart Cities initiative.
  • The Government of India has launched a phased manufacturing programme (PMP) aimed at adding more smartphone components under the Make in India initiative thereby giving a push to the domestic manufacturing of mobile handsets.
  • The Government of India has allocated Rs 10,000 crore (US$ 1.5 billion) for rolling out optical fibre-based broadband network across 150,000 cumulative gram panchayats (GP) and Rs 3,000 crore (US$ 450 million) for laying optical fibre cable (OFC) and procuring equipment for the Network For Spectrum (NFS) project in 2017-18.
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