4G smartphone base expected to be 180 million by 2017-18: Report

New Delhi, Oct 31 (IANS) It is expected that fourth generation (4G) smartphone base will jump from 5 million in 2015-16 to 180 million by 2017-18 leading to 4G subscribers accelerating from almost zero in 2015-16 to 90 million by 2017-18, a report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch said here on Saturday.

“We hence expect a faster acceleration towards 4G and see a large proportion of 2G subs leapfrogging 3G and moving to 4G. We expect 4G smartphone base to jump from 5 mn in 2015-16 to 180 million by 2017-18 leading to 4G subs accelerating from almost zero in 2015-16 to 90 million by 2017-18,” the report said.

“We expect 4G net adds to be faster than 3G net adds by 2018-19 and estimate 3G subs to be largely restricted in areas where 4G coverage is limited,” it added.

The report said with Reliance Jio’s launch expected to be in March 2016 or later, it is believed that the big three players – Bharti, Vodafone, Idea – will have a head-start in 4G and also have incumbency advantage.

“We think that continued delay from Jio will make it difficult for Jio to poach more high-end subs as the company would need to focus on offering a differentiated service as aggressive pricing alone would not be able to help Jio have a sustainable advantage,” it added.

It considers that the top 5 percent customers of big three telecom companies, who contribute to 25 percent of revenues, to be sticky and unlikely to switch now with 4G being offered by their existing telcom operator.

“We estimate the big 3 telcos 4G market share to increase from 53 percent in 2016-17 to 60 percent by 2019-20 though we estimate Jio to have largest subs market share in 4G,” the report added.

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