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GSMA: 'Unique' mobile penetration in India at 25 percent

Public and private sector need to help drive connectivity of India population with mobile access as only about a quarter are connected.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Mobile penetration of unique mobile subscribers in India is at 25 percent which means more can be done to connect the entire population, said a GSMA executive.

In a speech at India Telecom 2012 Thursday, Anne Bouverot, director general of GSMA, said: "Mobile penetration in India, based on connections, stands at 72 per cent and this is forecast to rise to almost 100 per cent by 2017. Meanwhile, the penetration of unique mobile subscribers is currently at 25 per cent and is set to increase to 39 per cent at the end of 2017."

"This clearly shows that there is still much to do to reach the entire population in India, and it is important that both the private sector and the government work jointly to further develop this," said Bouverot.

She noted that while India is the second-largest mobile market in the world with more than 900 million mobile connections but there is only about 319 million individual subscribers. The difference is due to Indian users having an average of 2.2 SIMS per person which is higher than the global average of about 1.5 SIMs per person, she said.

"Mobile presents tremendous opportunities for consumers and businesses throughout India, providing important socio-economic benefits and offering access to education, health services, financial services and much more, and we are focused as an industry on working with the Indian government to make mobile accessible to all," she said.

Bouverot highlighted some examples of how mobile has an impact on the country's economy.

IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Limited (IKSL), a joint venture between the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative and Bharti Airtel, has partnered GSMA to deliver information to farmers through mobile phones. The farmers receive 5 pre-recorded voice messages on topics such as farming techniques and topical information based on season or weather, she said.

"The service now has 3 million users and the information and advice has allowed farmers to improve their farming techniques, resulting in higher crop yields and improved economic opportunities," she added.

Bouverot also encouraged the growth of mobile broadband in the country. A report September by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) noted that 3G subscribers made up only about 2 percent of total mobile subscribers.

In October, the Indian government said it is taking proactive steps to increase the reach of both fixed and mobile broadband in the country. It aims to have 600 million broadband users by 2020.

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