3g Mobile Phones Service In India-Who and What Is It Good For?

While the Smart phone revolution is taking a while to play catch up in India, over the past few months, the general consensus has been the same. Between press releases, consumers, news and manufacturers themselves of the 3rd generation Smart phones, the takes are the same all around. “We want 3G phone service!" The manufacturers are now just about ready to give it to them. Over the last month, Nokia, Motorola and other big name Smartphone manufacturers have been getting ready to roll out 3G services in rural India.
According to Devendra Jalihal, a member of the Chennai-based Telecommunication and Computer Networking Group (TeNeT), "In the same way that basic mobile services allowed India to leapfrog over the digital divide, 3G services with their video and picture features can transform life in the infrastructure-deficient rural areas." What he means by this is that when the basic mobile services came to India it allowed many people who had no connection to the outside be able to live a somewhat “normal” life. And now that the 3G service is coming, India can once again play catch up with the rest of the world. This in a sense will give the people in India a sense of pride that they are no longer the ones being left out in the cold when it comes to services like this.
Also stated in a press release on October 14th, 209 from Mumbai, Nazara Technologies' Chief Executive Officer, Nitish Mittersain, states "India's 3G subscriber base is likely to touch 90 million by 2013. It is estimated that five to seven per cent of mobile handsets would be 3G-enabled by 2010-2011. This is a large opportunity for all participants in the 3G area." Meaning that not only everyone in urban areas would have access to these services, but people in India’s rural areas would too.
There is a particular sub set of people in India’s population that just about everyone seems to forget about. These are the land owning farmers in rural areas. These farmers usually have a particularly difficult time selling their goods because of the language barrier. It has been estimated that about 97% of farmers do not speak to understand English, making it difficult to market their produce and other products for sale to other parts of the world.
That being said, the new 3G services that are set to roll out will greatly up the ante when it comes to advertising and marketing. With the voice, video and other capabilities like different translation applications available to the 3G users, it would make it a lot easier for the general rural area farmer to be able to market their products. Whereas the farmers are generally limited to their area and very seldom travel outside of rural India, the 3G services will make it easier do business outside of the general rural areas. Therefore having the possibility, finally, to be able to provide for their families, where in the past it would have been more difficult.
But there is a question that must be answered in considering the above information. No matter what greatness having and using the 3G service may bring, who is going to want and more importantly, pay for the new phones? Apparently the prices for the new handsets are almost double of what they are going for in the US. Apple, the makers of the iPhone is saying that their prices are so high in India because of the lack of subsidies for the handsets because of per-minute pricing. As with AT&T who sells their minutes for 15 cents a minute in the US, they can afford to offer their phones at 199 USD, or 9,193 INR. But in India, where the per-minute price is 2 cents, they are not bringing in as much so they can not afford to subsidize the handsets. This works the price out to be 21,000 INR, or 454.45 USD. That translates to more than twice the price. Some other prices are (in Rupees) the Motorola MOTOZN 300 at 7,999, the MOTOYUVA WX160 at 1,499 and the Samsung Star 3G at 11,000. Even at Samsung’s heftier price, it still makes a person wonder why the Apple iPhone is so expensive, especially since the per-minute pricing structure is the same.
So maybe with the new 3G services now being offered in India it may just bring up the overall morale of the people and the economy, but it still remains to be seen how people will be able to afford them? Especially for those who have a hard time paying for a decent month’s worth of food at 8,000 INR. One would speculate that starving for a month might actually be worth the price of bringing in a new video 3G service, especially if it means that the average farmer could double or triple his yearly salary.