India is known to have leapfrogged many a technology adoption, with mobile being the most prominent one. Mobile phones made rapid inroads into country, and users quickly moved from feature phones to accessing internet via smartphones, skipping desktop internet altogether.
This is also true from a connectivity perspective. While smartphone users may have been slower with 2G internet adoption, they were quick to embrace 3G connectivity. This is because faster connectivity meant better quality access to content and when it comes to India, smartphones are the preferred device for internet and content access. 4G promises much higher speeds and stronger connectivity, and therefore is likely to see faster adoption rates.
In fact, a GSMA Mobile Economy estimate suggests that with the launch of 4G services the combined 3G & 4G subscriber base in India will grow by 31% between 2013 and 2017.
These growth predictions come on the back of the fact that telecom operators in India are steadily ramping up the 4G infrastructure in the country. Operators such as Airtel and Reliance Jio had introduced 4G services as a pilot in one or two metro cities over a year ago. Airtel is now expanding their 4G presence across all metro cities, and Reliance could follow soon.
Smartphone manufacturers too are taking a cue from the impending demand for 4G in India and introducing handsets that support 4G connectivity. Although 4G was available as a feature on a few premium smartphones in the country, the lack of 4G infrastructure rendered this feature useless. However with operators starting to offer 4G services across the country, these smartphones can now provide 4G access. Manufacturers such as Motorola, Lenovo, Asus, Xiaomi have also introduced smartphones in the low-to-mid price range that feature 4G connectivity. As more people turn to 4G, these smartphones will start seeing a rise in adoption.
According to a GFK report, in Q1 of 2015, while share of 4G smartphones in India and Indonesia was as much as 4% and 7% respectively, these figures are expected to increase to 7% and 10% respectively towards the end of the year.
As 4G adoption increases, the demand for content, especially video content will grow by leaps and bounds. While there is a steady demand for social media, music, gaming, news and video, with 4G coming in, more mobile internet users will want to stream videos and music and play online games. Video calling which was possible with 3G will now become an even more enriching experience with 4G connectivity.
The advent of 4G promises several benefits. For instance, shopping or paying via mobile will become a quicker and more robust experience as 4G promises faster, stronger and more reliable connectivity. With 4G, more internet users will go mobile-first, communicating more, accessing more content, watching more videos, playing more and transacting more via their smartphones.