04 October, 2005

Coming soon: Mobiles for the masses (Rs.1000 only) -Times of India

The mobile industry today is excited not just by the fact that over 2 million new mobile users are being added to the network, but more so because the entire network today covers only 20% of India. The 63 million plus mobile subscribers are a minuscule group when compared to what will happen when networks span out. Out of 6000 towns, only 3000 are covered today; out of 6 lakh villages, only 50,000 have mobile phone access. In a country of a billion plus, such coverage gaps mean immense opportunity.

So, apart from asking what else you will do with your phone today use it as a computer, a jukebox, a television—the industry has realised that there are millions of new users who may want to put a mobile to use quite differently. To start with, the new population may be largely technophobic. Just like us, who were unsure of sinking money into a gadget we didn’t know would be useful beyond voice calls when we first stumbled upon them. The challenge the industry is facing is to bring this population into the network in order to achieve its goal of bringing 200 million (roughly one fourth of the population) under mobile telephony by 2007.

All of a sudden, there is a spurt of announcements from the likes of Motorola and Philips that they are making low-cost handsets for emerging markets including India. Technology has shown that a feature rich mobile phone can be produced and sold for as low as Rs 1,000 in the Indian market.

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