BENGALURU, India India's wireless market is poised for change, including the launch of WiMax and 3G services along with industry consolidation in 2009.
The number of Indian wireless subscribers is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 21 percent in the next four years, exceeding 735 million by 2012. Wireless revenues are expected to reach $37 billion, according to a new market analysis.
Industry watcher Gartner Inc. also predicts wireless market penetration will rise from nearly 20 percent now to over 60 percent of the Indian population by 2012. According to industry associations, India has 272 million wireless subscribers, of which 205 million are GSM subscribers.
The Indian wireless market "will move to its next phase of evolution with the commercial launch of WiMax in the first quarter next year and the launch of 3G services by the middle of the second quarter next year," said Madhusudan Gupta, a Gartner senior research analyst.
Gupta said the fast-growing rural market in India, a key segment for sub-$25 handsets, along with low Indian tariff rates will also fuel wireless growth here. "The Indian wireless market is a vibrant, price-sensitive and high-growth market," Gupta added.
Two new carriers are set to join 14 established wireless providers in the coming months. Hence, Gupta predicted heightened merger and acquisition activity during 2009 as India's wireless industry consolidates around market leaders. "Given the high level of competition and anticipated consolidation, different business models will emerge that could push tariffs further down."
The main beneficiary, he added, would be Indian consumers.