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Boosterwala

Insight on Indian Mobile industry.

March 5, 2013
Before i share with you all my customer experiences in Boosterwala Diaries, i would first brief up with the current situation in Indian Mobile Service Industry.

Now India has a wide customer base using cell phones.Infact the number of cell phones outnumbers the number of land line phones in India,thanks to multiple sim ownership by various individuals.The reason for that could be the due to the domination of government owned MTNL-BSNL in the land line sector where the price has not seen change for a long time and remain to be an expensive way of communication compared to mobile phones.

Indian Mobile market is divided into GSM and CDMA technlogies with GSM clearly being the winner with approximately 80% of the market share.CDMA remains popular in remote and rural areas where the BTS density is also happens to be less.



CDMA(Code division multiple access) was very popular in its initial days when Tata and Reliance came into the market somewhere during 2003 with WLL(wireless local loop) and their dirt cheap calling rates.WLL was only meant for voice communication.Soon WLL was upgraded to CDMA  which was compatible for both voice and SMS.Soon came CDMA 2003 which had data facility too,hanks to EVDO.Infact EVDO 2000 was able to give 3G like speeds and was also introduced few months after 3G in India.EVDO 2000 which was launched by MTS and BSNL could not compete the aggressive marketing strategies by Airtel and Idea who made 3G technology a familiar term in India.


GSM on the other hand remains popular among urban user base in metros and towns.GSM also has the advantage of wider variety in terms of handsets which suits India where there is no strong contract system business like in UK and USA.Indians prefer changing their handsets on a regular basis and tend to spend lot of money on mobile handsets as well as services.

Very few people realise how CDMA is master when it comes to coverage compared to GSM.CDMA communication has been possible in basements but GSM seems impossible unless there is an IBS present.

During calamities in India,GSM networks get jammed easily when people start calling each other to check ,but CDMA networks never face that issue since they have dedicated channels to users unlike frequency reusing technique in GSM.

CDMA also has the wonderful cell technology which alters its reach when a user with no signal bars dials a call from his phone and his able to communicate.

The flipside is that CDMA technology is expensive for the network operators and the pricing has to be kept in par with GSM.Also CDMA phones tend to consume more power than GSM phones.

 Some major players who ply their trade in CDMA in India are Reliance,Tata,MTS along with government supported BSNL-MTNL duo.

While GSM operators are in large numbers.Back in mid 90s when the whole revolution began,there were only a few like Max Touch(Vodafone),BPL(Loop) ,AT&T(IDEA),Airtel and MTNL-BSNL.These were all using 900MHZ band ,which is the most efficient band in terms of RF having better penetration ability.

Initially these operators stuck to certain circles except MTNL-BSNL.

Later the mobile subscriptions went on to rise thus making 900MHZ band insufficient with growing number of operators and then came 1800MHZ band  or DCS band which promised better sound quality.1800MHZ meant more cell sites due to its lesser penetration compared to 900MHZ.

In a congested country like India where acquiring a site to setup cell equipments is a huge challenge and with 1800MHZ it meant more initial investment for operators at the same call costs.




TRAI never planned the spectrum allocation back in the mid 90s and underestimated the subscription.This led to lot of inconsistency in terms or operators ,circles and frequency band.For e.g Idea operates on 900Mhz in Maharashtra and Goa circle but operates on 1800MHZ in Mumbai circle.Similarly Airtel operates on 900Mhz in Delhi circle and being a late entrant in Mumbai circle operates on 1800Mhz.

TRAI has also exploited the telecom industry to its benefit by auctioning spectrums at sky-high prices without caring that the end users will be paying for it.This misery was doubled when the ruling government during 2008 spectrum auctions managed one of the biggest scams in Indian history where license distribution lacked transparency and the likes of DB group resold their licenses withing few months of acquisition which was prohibited as per the TRAI rules.

The Government saw a 50% fall in expected revenues during 2012 2G spectrum auctions as a backlash of scams and license cancellations happened due to the corruption in previous auction in 2008.

Telecom industry has been barely managing things in India with most of the equipment manufacturing and technical know-how dependency on Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE.Huawei and ZTE have made sure how Indian mobile industry will be kept away from IP based  picocell technology by not integrating it into the current RF planning in India.

Looking at the number of patent battles Huawei are fighting all over the tech industry suggest that they are perfect for Indian customers who do not believe in paying for R&D and keep looking for short term,unreliable but cheap options.

The 3G has been a failure too in India and 4G is already been launched in Pune,Kolkata and Bangalore.3G being on 2100MHZ frequency has not been planned properly all over India thus customers not getting 3G speeds as promised.The rates though have come down substantially since its introduction in India while coverage has also improved but not substantially.Customers who have already purchased 3G dongles from their respective operators have found themselves locked up when they do not get proper 3G coverage in their office or home.

The 3G data cards being locked by the operators,customers cannot try other SIMs on it to get a proper solution after owning the redundant hardware.

This is where universal,unlocked 3G USB data cards or dongles play an important role for customers enjoying more freedom and convenience.

The spectrum refarming or restructuring is another disaster which has been playing in the minds of Indian government and TRAI which will vacate the 900MHZ for 3G by placing all 2G services on 1800MHZ.

The government doesnt realsie how rare and costly are 900MHZ 3G devices and what kind of setback will the end users  suffer when operators on 900MHZ move to 1800MHZ after scarping their existing equipments and investing in new ones ,just because the government felt a need to do so.

We sincerely hope that Indian telecom industry bounces back and becomes one of the most satisfying as well as profit making telecom industry in the world.

Please check my website www.boosterwala.com to know about mobile signal solutions and write me at particle.tele@gmail.com ,if you have any suggestions or feedback related to the website or blog.





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