New Delhi: India is expected to have 9 crore 4G subscribers and 18 crore 4G smartphones by 2018 and Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular will gain from this growth if Reliance Jio Infocomm delays the launch of its 4G services, says a report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA ML).
In next few years, there will be marginal difference between 3G and 4G tariffs as well as there will be decline in smartphone prices that may lead 2G subscribers leapfrog to 4G services and skip 3G, analysts expect.
We expect 4G net ads to be faster than 3G net adds by FY 2019 and estimate 3G subscribers to be largely restricted in areas where 4G coverage is limited. However, we do expect 3G subscribers uptake to be strong for the next couple of years, at least, as 3G coverage would likely be better than 4G coverage,” the report said.
“We note that top 5 percent customers (mainly post-paid) of the big 3 telcos contribute to 15 percent of their revenues. These customers are unlikely to switch to Jio given the comfort these customers have with their existing operators and general laziness to switch unless there is a very compelling proposition,” the report said.
It, however, estimates Reliance Jio to be market leader in terms of 4G subscriber base from 2017 onwards till 2025, followed by Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular.
Bharti Airtel has commercially launched 4G service in 296 cities with 35,000 base-stations and 4G tariffs at 3G prices. Vodafone has announced to launch 4G commercial service in some cities by December and Idea in 10 circles by June.
“The company (Jio) is looking for 4G phones to be priced between Rs. 4,000-25,000. Jio would need a 5 band phone which works on 900, 2100 bands along with 800, 1800 and 2300 for seamless connectivity,” the report added.