Despite the inhibiting factor that no operator has got a pan-India 3G license, the services have been rolled out in a large number of cities across the country. One of the leading 3G service providers that had got licenses for 13 out of the total 22 license areas had earlier noted that it had more than 8 million 3G subscribers by the end of December 2011. The operator seemed to be directly offering services in around 360 cities but was also able to offer services in around 950 cities through interconnect roaming agreements with other operators.

The growth of 3G services has been accompanied with a breathtaking evolution of mobile devices, which are getting richer and smarter by each passing launch. While the newer breeds of feature phones are rivaling capabilities of some of the smart phones, the newer smart phones are literally redefining user experience.

Typically, the number of 3G subscribers would be less than 5 percent of total mobile service subscribers for a given operator. That implies significant growth potential for 3G.

To realize that potential and to make 3G a widespread phenomenon, it is important to develop offerings and plans that are suited as much for feature phone users as for smart phone users. This would need a two-pronged approach: while the networks would need to more and more content and apps-aware, the pricings would need to be devised basis the device and the screen being used.

While the shipment of smart phones in the country is forecasted to grow at a much faster rate than that of feature phones, the installed base of feature phones would still form a majority of mobile phones’ user base for years to come. That also represents a long window of opportunity for industry stakeholders to bring feature phone users into the apps fold.

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