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Mobile technology changing India but government must legislate

Anup Basti

Mobile technology is changing how Indian governments and businesses operate, but the regulatory environment must change if the country is to reach its potential.

The mobile ecosystem in India resulted in more than 5.3% of India’s GDP in 2012, according to a report by the GSMA.

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The report, which was made in collaboration with Boston consulting group, also said that by the year 2020 mobile technology would account for almost US $400bn of India’s GDP, while creating and supporting 4.1 million jobs.

The report said investment in mobile technology in India will exceed $9bn by 2020.

India has the second highest number of subscribers globally with 350 million and almost 900 million mobile connections. Technology such as 3G and 4G is already being accepted across the nation and, while the number of users stands at 107 million in 2013, it could grow up to 409 million by 2017.

However, the Indian mobile industry still lags behind most major economies in terms of mobile maturity and penetration, according to GSMA.

“The Indian mobile industry is fast-paced and innovative, but it currently lacks the regulatory environment to support its ambitions,” said Anne Bouverot, director general, GSMA. “An absence of predictable, long-term policies in areas such as the allocation of radio frequencies is acting as a brake on investment. The Indian government’s target of increased rural coverage would be supported by a more flexible spectrum policy, particularly the release of more frequencies in the bands below 1GHz and the development of allocation processes that do not focus solely on maximising short-term spectrum fees.”

Bouverot added: “India is on the cusp of dramatic transformation, both economically and socially, through mobile. The mobile industry is ready to work closely with government, as well as other adjacent industry sectors, to accelerate growth through mobile, increasing technological innovation in India and enhancing the lives of all its citizens.”

The Indian government must create legislation to support rather than hold back mobile developments, said Debarshi Kanjilal, instructional designer at Accenture. “A mobile-internet boom will need a more competent state – one that unshackles payment systems, regulates telecoms sensibly and does not throttle everything with red tape. India has all the other ingredients it needs and, with the right framework, they could bring about a technological revolution.”