I have written on this topic earlier. I needed to write a brief note recently – so I took some of the earlier ideas, and updated them.
As voice becomes a commodity on mobile networks, the action is shifting to mobile data services. In this context, India’s user base is only second to China. This availability of a domestic market can help India become a large market for mobile data networks as networks become faster (3G and 4G), and as devices become cheaper and better. Since mobiles and data services are a global phenomenon, Indian companies can also emerge as global leaders by leveraging technology platforms, content and services they create for the large domestic market. India thus has a unique opportunity to create an industry in the next decade that can replicate the success of IT services in the past two decades.
To make this happen, there is need to encourage the creation of off-deck mobile data ecosystem. There are three pre-requisites that need to happen to drive this ecosystem:
- a guarantee of Net Neutrality, so that operators cannot arbitrarily block services they believe compete with them
- remove the WLL and spectrum charges of 13-15% that are levied for VAS, so that the cost of mobile data comes down
- the operator’s billing platform to be available as a service for a fee of 10% or so for micropayments, a la Docomo’s i-mode in Japan
Taken together, they can drive innovation like what has been in Japan and some other countries. The first two will open up the creation of new services, and the third will give service providers a way to monetise by making available a micropayments infrastructure leveraging the cash balance that mobile users in India already have.