In a recently released report by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), a resonating statement was made. “The Internet in India took more than a decade to move from 10 million to 100 million and 3 years from 100 million to 200 million. However, it took only a year to move from 200 to 300 million users”. So, let’s find out what this piece of information means to different people in the industry, not just across India but across the world.
To start with, Users. Internet Users have always been demanding about various things pertaining to the connectivity. Although, the internet consumption patterns vary from one country to another, the growth is predominantly being driven by two things across the world. One, multimedia drives growth in the retail market. It makes perfect sense because to spend more on internet, a user should have a need for the same. Over the past few years, thanks to the growing multimedia technologies and platforms like Youtube in the market, users are craving for quality entertainment everywhere. Now, the fact that they need it everywhere is also driving the mobile broadband market. Second driver for the internet market is the enterprise market. With the evolution of machines as independent consumers of internet, enterprise markets are increasingly asking for dependable and dedicated internet for business continuity and these players are ready to pay big bucks for the connectivity.
Giving the connectivity to the users are the ISPs, who are also growing in number in India today. With the steep surge in the user base, ISP business today is competitive and lucrative, which is a rare combination. With the one least internet penetrations in the world, India is set to experience exodus in the ISP market. With the Indian Government allowing and encouraging DTH operators to provide internet, the market will be flooded with new and exciting players. ISPs in India provide internet on multiple technologies from ranging from ancient Cable to modern 4G. With the increase in sub base and ongoing market consolidation, the role of ISPs in Indian economy is set to become prominent and thereby creating an impact at a global scale.
With the increasing traffic and growing operators, the market for ISP equipment, network equipment and other supporting solutions is set to experience a surge. Currently, we see a lot of foreign players (foreign to India) in the market who are battling it out in the market today. However, with the increasing internet penetration and vertiginous growth of Indian Internet and the ongoing “Make in India” mood, markets are going to witness more investment from Indian soil, both financially and technologically. These changes are set push the boundaries of the market and create new and exciting challenges during their way to a steep assent.
Last but definitely not the least, the international bandwidth providers. These submarine cable providers usually use important cities as nodes to lay undersea fiber. Currently, India is not a major hub for the sub marine cable companies due to multiple reasons. However, this is set to change. With India becoming a major international bandwidth consumer itself and an internet hub for other SAARC countries, this is set to change.
At a global scale every growth is studied and measured by money and for this value pyramid, users and ISPs earn the bucks. With the explosive growth, an average Indian internet user is empowered. And as any other empowered user in the world, she/he demands quality and value for money. Today’s internet eco-system in India is not built around delivering quality but to satiate the basic need for a bare minimum connectivity. Evolving from this stage to a global standard requires Indian operators to think a lot about how to stay afloat in a competitive market serving demanding customers. In the process of this evolution, ISPs in India have a long way to go and grow. Customer are increasingly using mobile internet via 3G/4G or Wi-Fi. Although the west has adapted quite well to these emergence of multiple technologies, India is yet to achieve harmony with its past and future for a fruitful present.
In the process of reinventing the eco-system to make it more customers centric, operators need to understand monetization. Today, internet is more than a commodity. It is more a basic necessity. We see internet more as a part of an offering than a standalone service. An understanding of this concept helped us arrive at the understanding of convergence. A solution should be able to effective package, productize and monetize broadband internet for being effective as a monetization platform. Operators today might ask for a billing system but their requirement is much more than that. They need a solution built with deep understanding of the ongoing digital evolution towards all IP networks where broadband is part of the offering, which consists of other services like media and communications. This understanding is much required for emerging markets like India where a user base multiplies at an increasing pace.