4G to Be­come Main­stream

In this spe­cial Jan­uary 2016 is­sue of the mag­a­zine, Voice&Data brings to you Trends for 2016 fore­casted by the in­dus­try cap­tains.

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While 2015 was a re­mark­able year with sub­scriber base swelling over one bil­lion, 2016 is set to con­sol­i­date the gains. Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try meta­mor­pho­sis from a voice fac­tory to data fac­tory con­tin­ues… as 3G and 4G tech­nolo­gies be­come main­stream.

Qual­ity of ser­vices is set to get bet­ter. Se­ri­ous moves to fix the call drop prob­lem are in the off­ing. The spec­trum crunch and with that the net­work con­ges­tion is­sue is likely to be re­solved to some ex­tent as the year will wit­ness the big­gest-ever spec­trum auc­tion in the his­tory of In­dian tele­com. The govern­ment plans to auc­tion fre­quen­cies in the 2G, 3G and 4G bands in early 2016 that will not only help min­i­mize the spec­trum crunch in the coun­try but will also fetch a huge amount to the coun­try’s ex­che­quer. Spec­trum in the prized 700 MHz band for 4G may also be on of­fer for the first time. It looks like a rosy pic­ture ex­cept for a few thorns – huge debts and capex for tel­cos.

The much-awaited spec­trum trad­ing and shar­ing guide­lines have set the ball rolling for con­sol­i­da­tion in the in­dus­try and so, from 10-12 oper­a­tors now, the num­ber would likely be pared to 5-6 oper­a­tors by the end of 2016.

The pos­i­tive im­pact of de­vel­op­ments from 2015 such as har­mo­niza­tion of 1800 mhz spec­trum, is­suance of pay­ment bank li­cences to some mo­bile oper­a­tors, an­nounce­ment of M2M pol­icy, rapid rise in mo­bile apps or OTTs would be felt in 2016.

Not to for­get, the ad­vent of Re­liance Jio, which is set to shake-up the mar­ket, com­pelling the oper­a­tors to bring out the best for their cus­tomers.

The roll­out of 4G net­works and the avail­abil­ity of bud­get smart­phones will give fur­ther fil­lip to the sec­tor, which will re­main an in­di­ca­tor of an un­plugged growth in the tele­com sec­tor in the days to come.

Ex­po­nen­tial rise in de­mand for smart­phones as well as wear­ables would hap­pen and we would see a boost to the man­u­fac­tur­ing of devices and equip­ments out of In­dia.

Dis­rup­tions such as the OTTs have al­ready put a lot of pres­sure on the tel­cos, with stud­ies es­ti­mat­ing that they have al­ready eaten up about 50 bil­lion dol­lars of tel­cos’ rev­enues and this fig­ure will dou­ble up to 120 bil­lion dol­lars in the com­ing years. But a con­sen­sus seems to be on the cards af­ter the Tele­com Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity of In­dia comes out with its fi­nal re­port in the first half of 2016. It should be noted here that the Depart­ment of Tele­com (DoT) panel had sug­gested a ‘reg­u­la­tory frame­work’ for In­ter­net calls. If the sug­ges­tions are im­ple­mented, it may end free calls of­fered by apps like Skype and What­sApp.

Last but not the least; col­lab­o­ra­tion would be the buzz­word in the tele­com ecosys­tem. A healthy col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween tra­di­tional tel­cos and con­tent providers and also in­creased con­ver­gence be­tween broad­cast­ing and tele­com is some­thing in­evitable. Pub­lic wi-fi and wired broad­band will drive the ‘Dig­i­tal In­dia’.

In the en­su­ing pages read more on the trends for 2016 fore­casted by the in­dus­try cap­tains.

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