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App Uptake: Slow but steady growth in broadband-based applications

August 31, 2012

Mobile broadband is expected to be the main driver for broadband in the country. The medium offers several advantages over fixed broadband, including a low capex requirement, less time-to-market, availability of affordable devices and seamless connectivity. Other enabling factors include the introduction of next-generation mobile broadband technologies like long term evolution (LTE). LTE will offer higher data rates, an enhanced service experience, improved network efficiency and cost economics. Also, this technology platform can support several new and innovative applications.

According to analysts, broadband-based applications in India have been largely centred on the ABC (astrology, Bollywood and cricket) segment. Going forward, services like IPTV, mobile TV, cloud computing and commerce-based applications are expected to gain momentum. Though already present in India, the use of these mediums is still limited.

The following are some of the key broadband-based applications present in the Indian market.

Social networking

Social networking services are popular mobile broadband-based applications. Facebook had over 51 million monthly active users in India as on March 31, 2012. Of these, over 35 per cent access the site through their mobile phones.

M2M messaging

Mobile-to-mobile messaging applications such as the BlackBerry Messenger and Whatsapp have also witnessed increased uptake. According to industry estimates, India had over 1.2 million BlackBerry Messenger customers in 2011. This user base is expected to increase threefold over the next few years.

Entertainment and gaming

The entertainment segment largely comprises video and music streaming from websites like YouTube and shazam. The Indian mobile gaming market is expected to be valued at Rs 14.3 billion by 2014, up from Rs 2.4 billion in 2010, according to a report released by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and KPMG. Various operators have already launched gaming services. TATA DOCOMO, for example, has introduced the Let’s Play service in collaboration with Exent. It enables 3G customers to download games from the operator’s 3G portal on to their handsets.

Mobile TV

Mobile TV is another promising application in the broadband segment. Mobile TV services includes broadcast, multicast and unicast of both real-time and stored content. Currently, all major telecom companies like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications (RCOM), Aircel, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) – are providing these services.

Commerce

These services include location-based commerce, near field communications-based payments and daily deals, and are currently being offered by companies like Snapdeal.com, Flipkart.com, BookMyShow and MakeMyTrip. The launch of services like Airtel Money, a virtual wallet facility, is expected to provide a fillip to the segment.

VoIP

Though widely deployed globally, in India, VoIP services were approved by the Telecom Commission in March 2012  under the National Telecom Policy, 2012. Prior to this, VoIP calls were allowed only between computers within the country and between a computer in India and a telephone (fixed or wireless) outside the country.

The technology uses IP to transmit voice and data. It allows broadband users to make international calls to a personal computer, landline or mobile, and can be used for voicemail and fax mail applications. Currently, the government is establishing security guidelines for these services.

IPTV

IPTV made its debut in India in 2006, when MTNL rolled out these services in Mumbai. It was followed by BSNL and private players. Today, IPTV services are offered by Bharti Airtel, BSNL, MTNL and RCOM. According to ResearchOnIndia, the Indian IPTV market was valued at Rs 80 million in 2011. The IPTV customer base in India will cross 1.7 million by 2013, as per a report by Pyramid Research.

Cloud computing

According to a joint study by NASSCOM and Deloitte, the Indian cloud computing market would be valued at $16 billion in 2020. About two-thirds of this growth will be driven by new businesses. Cloud computing is most pertinent to enterprises that require anytime access to heavy data, which is mainly internet based. Cloud-based applications will enable consumers to avail of faster mobile connections and stream full-length TV shows and movies.

Location-based services

Location-based services can be used to support security-centric applications and for navigation, tracking, information and communication. Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL) has launched the Offers Near Me location-based service. According to TTSL, this market is valued at $20 billion and 70 per cent of mobile consumers claim that they use these services for navigation, alerts, etc.

 
 

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