back to article India surpasses a billion active mobile subscriptions

One billion Indian wireless services subscribers were active in December 2021 – the first time the nation has breached the nine-figure barrier. But that colossal number betrays a market that is still far from saturated by smartphones or ready for rich digital services. News that the nation topped the billion mark emerged in …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They don't want those desktops.

    They've just finished building them and know exactly how crap they are so nobody wants one of those overpriced piles of shite in their home.

    Besides they can't justify the price of a full desktop when you can buy a whole 3g featurephone for as low as the cost of a new home!


  2. Blackjack Silver badge

    2G? Really?

    1. Peshman

      What's wrong with 2G?

      Week long battery life and it does what it says on the tin. "It's a phone and it makes, wait for it...telephone calls."

      1. yclinux


        the problem is a complete lack of privacy and security. I've heard stories of people getting terribly scammed in Mexico as result of 2G.

        when traveling around the world only use secure telegram and the like

  3. Raj


    Poorly researched article that doesn't explain much .

    TRAI reports two numbers: total subscribers, total active subscribers. There's a separate data set that reports total unique subscribers, which is approx 800 million the last I checked, i.e. that many people have at least one cellphone. TRAI updates the active subscriber data periodically, so that the total count drops every few months, e.g. Nov vs Dec data.

    Now onto smartphones - the market is 'far from saturated with them'. Ok how many ? Why quote PC numbers here ? Off Wikipedia:

    India has 500 million smartphones. Why not mention it - '500 million' and 'far from saturated' sounds a little ironic ?

    India has 1.35 billion people. 'Millions of Indians' means little. That many... just burped. But there are numbers that are still a lot, and 500 million is one of those.

    Look at the coverage map: . The three majors are saturated with their LTE coverage. Only the state run BSNL has 2G/3G, partly because its tied to railway connectivity, and the railways wants dedicated 4G spectrum to complete the move.

    The 5G story is a LOT more nuanced than the author understands. India does not want to repeat the 4G story in 5G, i.e. it will NOT buy western or Chinese 5G standard gear. India just had the 3GPP merge the domestic 5Gi standard.

    This is the future of xG telephony - India and China with their sheer market sizes will have their own standard and there's not going to be outbound licensing revenue streams here. The money and technology stay at home.

    It's simply a matter of time before 5Gi phones saturate the market. It's not like people are complaining en masse about LTE data speeds.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One billion Indian wireless services subscribers

    But why do they all have to call me?

    And does everyone India work for Microsoft or Amazon?

  5. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I wouldn't mind that

    I wouldn't mind that. A cell phone company that "sweats the assets" a little longer so you could have a lower phone bill.

    Verizon Wireless (historically CDMA-based) and AT&T(historically GSM-based) keep up on their technology, they both had LTE+VoLTE all rolled out by 7 or 8 years ago but you do pay for it.

    The rural CDMA carriers rapidly adopted LTE too... EVDO wasn't bad capacity-wise (12.4mbps in 5mhz) but it used 1.25mhz channels so max speed was 3.1mbps. If you want to offer some wireless broadband and such, that 50-100mbps LTE looks like a real nice upgrade to get up quick then. The GSM-based carriers had the option of sweating the 3G assets, even 14.4mbps max speed is not shabby, and they could run DC-HSPA+ 42mbps if they wanted.

    T-Mobile did it but was smart about it and it's worked out pretty well for them. They had loads of rural GSM/EDGE 2G, they rolled it out and just left it as-is for like 10 years, focusing upgrades on urban areas. They've upgraded it to 4G over the last 4 or 5 years, skipping 3G entirely, these areas have no 3G service. Since they got pretty modern 4G equipment, they were able to software update it to 5G so they now have quite widespread 5G coverage.

    Sprint tried the same strategy. They were CDMA (2G)/EVDO (3G)-based, were mid-way through rolling out LTE and did not have VoLTE running anywhere they had LTE, they were relying entirely on CDMA for voice and I think text traffic. They were planning to complete their 4G rollout in 3 or 4 years.. but since every other CDMA carrier has already gone VoLTE, there's almost no phones available with CDMA support and would have been none to buy before Sprint had finished their upgrades. T-Mobile bought them out and are rapidly deploying all that spectrum Sprint had not gotten around to lighting up yet.

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