Every second person in India will have a mobile phone connection by 2020, and then some, according to a projection released by GSM Association, an industry lobby. Mobile broadband penetration, too, is set to increase significantly through the next five years.
India already has close to a billion wireless subscriptions, according to government data, but the GSMA's findings suggest that half of those belong to people with multiple connections.
India will have 500 million unique mobile subscribers by the end of this year, GSMA said in a report titled "The Mobile Economy: India 2015," which it released Thursday. That compares with 453 million unique subscribers at the end of 2014.
India's population is projected to rise to 1.33 billion in 2020 from about 1.25 billion today, according to government census data. In that time, GSMA projects the number of unique mobile subscribers in the country will rise to 734 million.
“India is a unique mobile market and one where the mobile ecosystem is playing a hugely influential role in transforming the lives of its citizens, and driving economic growth,” Alex Sinclair, acting director general and chief technology officer at the GSMA, said in a press release on Thursday. “The market is now rapidly migrating to mobile broadband technology, which is providing a platform for India to transform into a digitally empowered society.”
Although India only launched 3G services in 2009 and 4G deployments are at an early stage today, mobile broadband networks are expected to make up 42 percent of all mobile connections in the country by 2020, from 11 percent in 2014.
Ever more affordable Android smartphones are an important factor influencing the rise of mobile broadband in India. From market leader Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. to domestic rivals, including Intex and Micromax Informatics, and Chinese competitors such as Xiaomi, Coolpad and Meizu, many device vendors are either establishing handset manufacturing in India, which will allow them to sell smartphones at lower prices, or boosting existing capacity.
In the three months through September, 28.5 million smartphones were shipped to India and every third phone was a 4G handset, research company IDC said, in a recent press release.