Global telecom industry body GSMA expects India to have 920 million unique mobile subscribers by 2025 which will include 88 million 5G connections. "5G connections in India are forecast to reach 88 million by 2025...This will leave India trailing regional peers such as China, which is set to see almost 30 per cent of its total connection base on 5G by 2025," the GSMA Intelligence report released in May said.
It said there were close to 750 million unique subscribers at the end of 2018 and expected to reach almost 920 million by 2025. "India alone will generate almost a quarter of the world's new mobile subscribers over this period," it said.
According to GSMA, data consumption pattern in India on 4G network supports in time uptake of new 5G devices and services. However, the emergence of 5G ecosystem in India will depend on telecom operators' ability to invest in network which requires favourable support on policy and regulatory fronts.
GSMA forecasts that the Indian mobile market will return to revenue growth in the second half of 2019 and continue to grow modestly till 2025 but market revenues will still be below the level of 2016, indicating that market repair will be a slow and challenging process.
On quarterly basis, revenues have been declining year-on-year since mid 2016 and India has one of the world's lowest average revenue per person (ARPU). GSMA estimates that total mobile revenues in India have dipped more than 20 per cent over the period.
According to telecom regulator Trai, telecom sector's gross revenue declined 3.43 per cent year-on-year to Rs 58,991 crore in October-December 2018 period. GSMA said that a recent survey of global mobile data pricing highlighted that India was the cheapest market among over 200 countries surveyed in the final quarter of 2018.
"The average price for 1 GB of data during this period was Rs 18.5 (USD 0.26), compared to a global average price per gigabyte of USD 8.53. Lower tariffs and ARPU levels help drive affordability and are important elements in addressing the digital divide. However, at low levels they also affect the financial stability of the sector," the report said.
GSMA recommended reduction in licence fee from 8 to 6 per cent and the spectrum fee from 3.8 per cent to 1 per cent to reduce financial constraints on telecom players. The report said India is likely to be the second largest smartphone market by 2025 with around 1 billion installed devices.