Can you imagine life without chocolates or even a year without a shower? Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? But there are many who are willing to make these sacrifices in return for internet access. According to a report by Boston Consulting Group, 36% of Indian consumers said they would forgo showering for a year in order to keep their internet connection. The study found out that 64% of people would forgo chocolate, 63% coffee, and 70% would give up alcohol for internet.
The internet is no more a luxury item. Like cell phones, it has invaded millions of homes in the country. India has the world's third largest internet users, with over 121 mn as of December 2011. The internet economy is booming and expected to reach `10.8 tn by 2016 as the country's growth rate in this segment is far ahead of many of the developing nations, says the report. The industry is expected to generate employment opportunities for about 10 mn people during the same period. According to analysts, the sector would create direct employment for 2.8 mn people and for 7 mn indirectly.
What Makes the Dongle Tick?
While there are various forms of internet in the market, mobile broadband dongles are becoming extremely popular with consumers. Most consumers know dongles by the name of portable modems or data cards. While multiple factors have worked in favor of the dongle industry in India in FY11, its USP lies in its mobility. The 'anytime, anywhere accessibility' feature has been the driving force behind this stupendous growth. With a rise in sale of netbooks and laptops, portability has become the order of the day and a dongle guarantees that with its seamless internet connection.
Dongles have also managed to break through the consumer segment demarcation. They not only address the high-end enterprise and business segments, but also multiple segments like students, self-employed entrepreneurs, households, business verticals, consumers in smaller towns, etc.
Prepaid users are contributing in a big way to this segment. As convenience and consumption become key factors there is a rise in the number of subscribers opting for data cards. Affordability is also a major push factor as prices of dongles have gone down heavily which has led to an uptake even by mid-level consumers. The growth has been such that fixed broadband service is facing tough competition from the mobile broadband.
Types of Dongles
All mobile broadband dongles come with 'plug and play' software so the program you need to get online is automatically installed the first time you plug your dongle in and you'll be able to surf the net in minutes. There are various types of dongles. Different network standards such as GPRS, Edge, 3G, WiMax, LTE, UMTS/HSPA, and EVDO are used for different types of dongles. However EVDO, UMTS/HSPA, and LTE are the most widespread way to deliver mobile broadband worldwide.
EV-DO: EV-DO (or Evolution-Data Optimized) is an add-on for CDMA networks. There have been several revisions of the EVDO standard, starting with Rel.0, which was later expanded with Rev. A to support higher data rates and later, Rev B to achieve even higher rates and lower latencies. EVDO features forward link air interface speeds of upto 2.4 Mbit/s with Rel. 0 and upto 3.1 Mbit/s with Rev. A.
WCDMA is the technology behind the 3G UMTS standard and is closely allied with the 2G GSM standards. It provides new service capabilities, increased network capacity and reduced cost for voice and data services. HSPA networks are often called 3.5G rather than just 3G. LTE is a fourth-generation cellular mobile communications standard. LTE has a theoretical net bit rate capacity of up to 100 Mbit/s in the downlink and 50 Mbit/s in the uplink. A multi-mode device is the one which is capable of operating across different standards.
Open Market Dongles
In a fast-paced and ever-changing world where new inventions are made every second day, no technology can survive without an open market. The mobile number portability has given consumers the freedom to change their service providers without changing numbers. Similarly, dongles, too, should have an open market.
An open market dongle will have no locked SIM card-one can change the operator, if not satisfied with the service and without buying a whole new connection, which is generally a costly affair. Since operators keep changing tariff plans, the open market dongles will let consumers change operators whenever the need arises. In the Indian telecommunications market, the 3G data card segment is dominated by SIM-locked devices. 3G operators in India do not have a nationwide network and so traveling to places with a locked SIM operator which doesn't have a 3G network can be disadvantageous.
Huawei sells over 3 mn dongles every year. While continuing to support and work closely with operators for the 80% forward bundled dongles, Huawei will also bring to 20% balance consumers who need unlocked dongles. This will give them the freedom to choose operators and plan. Huawei will also work closely with operators to offer reversed bundled data plans in the open market, thus helping operators expand their data business.
The author is director, marketing,
Huawei Devices India