Indian telecom operators are expected to rake in Rs. 95,500 crore in revenues from mobile data services over the next five years, says a report by ICRA.
Mobile data revenues are expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21 per cent by financial year 2021 and are expected to contribute 34 per cent to the total mobile service earnings, the ratings agency said.
At present, mobile data accounts for about 20 per cent of the telecom operators’ revenues, the report said.
“Over the last five years, data revenues for the ICRA Sample of telcos traced a strong CAGR of 54 per cent from Rs. 3,200 crore in FY 2011-12 to Rs. 27,450 crore in FY 2015-16,” ICRA AVP Corporate Sector ratings Harsh Jagnani said.
Nevertheless, when compared to international levels, the data revenues as proportion of total mobile service revenues in India are significantly lower, presenting a strong growth driver, he added.
ICRA said the revenue stream of the telecom companies has evolved over the years from being largely driven by voice services to one with a substantial mix of data revenues.
2G to 3G to 4G
High speed data services were started in India post the 2010 auction of data-centric spectrum. With growing data requirement, data service technology has evolved from 2G to 3G and now 4G by way of LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology.
As on December 2015, the broadband subscribers (3G and 4G) comprised 46 per cent of the total data subscribers for the ICRA Sample, as against just 8 per cent, as on June 2012.
Now with 4G rollout, ICRA expects the proportion of mobile broadband subscribers (3G and 4G) in the total data subscribers to increase further.
“Data revenues constitute 19 per cent of the total revenues for ICRA Sample of Indian telcos, which is significantly lower than the 40-50 per cent seen for mature international markets and 20-30 per cent seen for emerging markets,” Mr. Jagnani said.
India is 3-5 years behind
India is 3-5 years behind the developed markets in terms of roll out of data services and its penetration to a meaningful extent, he added.
A majority of the developed markets witnessed rollout of 3G services during 2004-2006.
In these markets, 3G services evolved and matured over 7-9 years before the rollout of 4G/LTE services. In China, 3G was rolled out in 2009 and within five years, 4G was launched.
“In India, 3G rollout began in 2011 and is still in early stage, while the 4G network rollout has started,” he said.
Given the high competitive intensity in India and risks of aggressive pricing, India will see data growth at low realisations, he added.