1 Billion Unique Mobile Subscribers in India by 2020, 616 Million Users as of June 2016: GSMA


The mobile network industry in India is growing at a rapid pace, and the extreme price wars are a testament to that. Moreover, it has become imperative for people in small towns and villages to be connected with the ones in cities.

A study by GSMA has predicted that there will be 1 billion mobile subscribers by the end of this decade. That means nearly 80% of the citizens of India will be on one of the mobile networks. As of June 2016, India already has 616 million mobile subscribers, which could increase to 700 million by the end of this year, thanks to Reliance Jio.

GSMA’s statement read, “‘The Mobile Economy: India 2016’ noted that at the end of June 2016, 616 million unique users had subscribed to mobile services in India, making it the second-largest mobile market globally, with almost one billion unique mobile subscribers expected by 2020. India also overtook the United States in 2016 to become the world’s second-largest smartphone market with an installed base of 275 million devices.”

GSMA Mobile Subscribers

According to GSMA, the rapid changes in network industry and the investments into advanced mobile technologies will lead to the additional 300 million subscribers in three years.

There will also be an accelerating move to 4G over this period. The number of 4G connections is forecast to grow rapidly, growing from just 3 million at the end of 2015 to 280 million by 2020. In addition, the industry is set to invest heavily, with operator CAPEX growing to $34 billion (INR 2.3 lakh crore) for the period 2016 to 2020.

Other key highlights in the report

1) Mobile to Drive Socio Economic Growth – The mobile industry is expanding at the speed of light. The contribution of this industry will increase by nearly 1.5x in the next three years, leading to an exponential growth of mobile subscribers in India.

2) Mobile Broadband – fixed line services in India are gaining importance and a lot of companies are investing heavily into getting high-speed internet connection to small villages and towns.

Mobile Broadband GSMA

Around 65 per cent of Indian adults have an account with a financial institution, and there is significant room to increase adoption of financial services through mobile technology.

3) Increased spectrum auctions – GSMA advises the Government of India to free up spectrums for auction and increase the adoptability of internet in India. The world is moving swiftly towards fibre networks, and we’re still struggling with providing internet access to far-off areas.

Mobile Industry Contribution

However, India is seeing an ongoing technology shift to mobile broadband services; the number of 3G/4G mobile broadband connections is forecast to reach more than 670 million by 2020.

Overall, the statistics look very promising and we can definitely hope for a more connected India than before in 2020. A previous report by Cisco had forecasted that there will be 603 million people online by 2020, with a growth of 4.4x internet traffic every year.

All the telco providers have taken a pledge to improve their services in India and provide basic internet access to people not living in large cities and towns.

Source: GSMA

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