REIMAGINING COMMUNICATION FOR BILLIONS IN INDIA
Voice and Data|August 2020
REIMAGINING COMMUNICATION FOR BILLIONS IN INDIA
The mobile revolution is one of the biggest success stories in post-liberalization India. The next 25 years will help realize the lower- and middle-class dreams
TARUN KATIAL

I remember 1995 not just as the year in which the first mobile phone call was made in India, but also for the release of what would turn out to be the longest-running movie in the history of Bollywood – Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the movie was still running for over 24 years in a matinee show at the Maratha Mandir theatre in Mumbai. And that jogs another memory. It was also the year when Bombay was renamed as Mumbai. Much has changed since then with digital and technological innovations driving a communication revolution.

Innovation in communication has brought the world closer and opened avenues that were unimaginable before. The first decade saw a slow but steady growth and by the end of April 2005, the total number of telephone subscribers in the country crossed 100 million with mobiles at around 54 million overtaking fixed lines at 46 million; a teledensity of 9.26%. By March 2019, the number of subscribers had increased ten-fold to reach 1,183 million with 1,162 million mobile subscribers and just 22 million fixed-line subscribers to achieve a teledensity of over 90%.

Today, India is home to around 400 million feature phone users and over 468 million smartphone users. India is the second-largest smartphone market in the world and is growing rapidly bolstered by the easy availability of affordable and fast data. The smartphone now occupies a central place in our lives. An ASSOCHAMPwC study projected that the number of smartphones in the country is likely to touch 859 million by 2022. India also ranks second in the average time spent on the mobile web by smartphone users in the Asia Pacific market. So, while we may have played catch up in adopting 2G, 3G, and 4G as compared to other developed markets, we have been quick to adapt to the technology once it arrived.

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August 2020