Telecom: A Open discussion Platform

13 06 2009

(I have been writing these short blogs at Idea Cellular earlier, but decided to move it to my own blog link from now onwards. Yesterday I wrote about 3G spectrum)

After a gap of week, there are some inputs which need to be addressed. Telecommunication Industry in India is growing at high pace. Though there is slowdown in telecom market worldwide, India & China are exceptions. We, India are probably the fastest growing mobile market in world. But we still lack many things; a positive sign for growth.

             One issue, which was never addressed in Indian context, is content development in Indian languages. We often talk about potential of mobiles to connect people, but unless we have necessary reasons, we are reluctant to adopt new technology. Earlier when C-DAC took initiative for popularizing Internet by developing websites in different India Languages; there were few takers of the idea. I have worked with Mithi software, which earlier forayed into website content development in Indian languages, but later they had to give up the idea. And now after 15-16 years we are again talking about same; developing mobile contents in Indian languages. Probably we felt it is more than a necessity to have something in Indian languages.  

             Coming back to 3G, the earlier proposed base price of spectrum could get revised in coming months. Let’s keep controversy aside for a moment; think of a new operator who is spending 3500 Cr on spectrum, what cost it will keep of its 3G services to recover the money? 3G is going to cheaper? But from where add on cost of infra rolling will be recovered? Ultimately, it’s not government or operator; consumers are going to bear the cost. The move has many other implications too, but there is a live example in the history of 3G auctions which failed to garner revenues for operators for long.

             Yes, I am talking  about 3G spectrum auction in UK. In year 2000, when auction was held the exorbitant costs of spectrum put excessive burden on operators to retrieve money spent. This has lead to costly services with low popularity. Now, after nine years of waiting when Smart Phone market in on roll, the revenues are coming in. But alas! 4G is in pipe- operators are in dilemma now. The need to recover money spent in 3G spectrum auctions is preventing them to migrate to 4G.

             Are we going to repeat the same mistake? In India, if you ask me, it might take another 10-15 years for investing operator to recover the money spent (Look at O2, BT). You have to count infra cost also. Are we willing to wait so long? We hope technology will enable people to do more they like. We are carrying it forward. But yes, 3G is just a technology and it mightn’t drive thing up initially. Better cross fingers!

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