Will 3G usher in a telecom revolution?

Ritam Banati

Will the world of the common man going to undergo a near-revolutionary change with the arrival of this latest software gizmo? Talk of online journos, the small or big entrepreneur, the busy politician and life does seem to be acquiring a new dimension.

The features of live TV, video chatting/conferencing and quick downloading on an enhanced streaming platform; and the future benefits that this would yield seem lucrative in terms of time as well as money in the long run.

For instance, a user with a 3G phone and a 3G data plan will only have to download one of the free applications and install on his mobile phone and start making calls-free.

For the layman, a cell phone is like his right hand, and this new wave of spectrum does spell more excitement than 2G. Though on the surface, the difference between 2G and 3G may not appear much, yet faster speed in the latter with the average data transfer rate being 5–10 MB per second, would definitely act as a great refinement over 2G.

What makes a 3G phone technically different is also that this commonly has two cameras since the technology allows the user to have video calls, for which a user-facing camera is also needed for capturing image.

For game lovers, there’s much to cheer in 3G. You can create your own games on the internet cloud.

Among the many pleasant surprises in store is the exponential impact it’ll have on healthcare delivery, as it’ll enable video broadcast and data-intensive services telemedicine through wireless communications and widen reach in remote areas.

Will the wave triggered by the ‘Third Generation’ phone prove to be a generational change in India’s mobile circles? Amidst much speculation of 3G auction creating a better and more user-friendly environ in the country’s communication set-up, the first question that strikes the mind is of the degree of stimulation it’ll provide to the telecom revolution.

It cannot be concluded yet till the time the bidding process completes and the entry of the 3G technology gets fairly embedded in the mainstream cell phone market.

Yet when the expected amount – a whopping Rs 30,000 crore was released as the revenue generation figure, the bottlenecks that delayed the 3G auction from taking place started pinching. More so, in the face of a fiscal deficit, which is currently at six-point something of the GDP that has to be narrowed if the PM’s forecast of an over 8% GDP growth needs to come true.

On the brighter side, the delay did not turn out to be a flat denial. The bidding process is nearly over now with the figure, for the government, hovering at over Rs 35000 crore-a good increase from the earlier forecast of Rs 30,000 crore. It may even touch Rs 50,000 crore as predicted recently by Telecom Minister A Raja.

It is natural for one to wonder as to why this technology, which holds so much promise, not only for the telecom industry but also for the country’s economy, had to wait till April 2010 when it was originally supposed to have been launched in 2006 itself.

The delay on account of concerns about the starting bandwidth price, number of slots to be sold and other issues resulted in the deferment.

Gartner has already estimated that the number of 3G subscribers in India which is the world’s fastest growing cellular market is likely to cross the 90 million mark in about three years.

No wonder that six of India’s largest private telecom companies, including Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices and Aircel, are earnestly bidding for a pan-India license.

BSNL and MTNL have already been allotted 3G and broadband wireless frequencies, but their reach is not throughout the country.

As speculation appears rife about the revenues from the auction surpassing the target, it is apparent that this auction may cut India’s borrowing, thus helping to some extent in stabilizing the current fiscal deficit.

The obvious question that hits now is, “How will the Centre utilize the funds that the 3G Auction generates?”

Since the amount churned out is raking in tens of thousands of crores, any economic conclusions can be drawn only after the above question is answered.


By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. You can find out more by clicking this link