The declining prices of mobile handsets and low connectivity costs have helped in doubling internet access through cellphones this year.
The latest Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) figures showed that the number of Indians using their mobiles (both GSM and CDMA) to access the internet has more than doubled from 16 million in 2006 to 38 million in 2007.
There were 2.69 million broadband subscribers as on October 30 this year. Besides, of the 22 million PCs in the country, around 30-40 per cent have internet access.
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This implies that internet access through mobiles is at least three times more than that through PCs and nearly 19 times more than broadband.
The GSM and CDMA players registered a double-digit growth in users accessing the internet through mobile phones. Among the 50.91 million Bharti-Airtel subscribers, as on Oct 2007, about 35 per cent access the internet through their handsets.
“Around 10 per cent of this user base accesses the net through mobile handsets in any quarter,” said a company spokesperson.
The company said the user base has been doubling over the last three years. In the last 12 months alone, thee has seen a 70 per cent growth in this user base. Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Communications (RCom) claims that 10 million users visited its Reliance Mobile World every month since July 2007 to try out new applications.
Krishna Durbha, head business and marketing, application solutions and content, RCom said, “This shows a tremendous interest among the people to use mobile devices to access the internet. We believe this is growing at a conservative estimate of 10-15 per cent across industry.”
Analysts said the next stage of growth would be the usage of data on handsets. The mobile data revenues are expected to outpace those of voice services and contribute to about a fifth of the total revenues in the country by 2011, doubling year on year, said research firm Gartner.
Mukul Khanna, vice president, Spice Telecom, said, “Data usage is becoming a large pie in value-added services. Its growth rate will be 50-60 per cent more than that of traditional content in the next few years.”
Spice Telecom recently launched Spice TV for its subscribers. While subscribers can watch live cricket matches on their handsets (it is the official telecom partner of Indian Cricket League), they can also view NDTV, Times Now, Zoom and cartoon networks.
“About 10-15 per cent of Spice’s total user base browses the net through handsets. We are expecting at least 25-30 per cent to do so in the first three months,” added Khanna. The choice with regard to content is restricted to checking e-mails, search, downloading ringtones, wallpapers and images, games, e-ticketing and instant messaging.
Source: Wireless Federation.