Tata first of the blocks in Indian 3G race

Santosh Sathanur/Ovum
18 Nov 2010


Branded as “3G Life”, Tata’s “Smart Life” 3G plans are available to both post-paid and prepaid subscribers, with different tariffs for access from small- or large-screen devices. Advertised speeds range from 3.6Mbps to 21.1Mbps, and Tata is offering a bonus 100MB of data usage for new or existing subscribers who sign on before the end of 2010.

Tata DoCoMo has launched its 3G service just two months after receiving spectrum. However, international experience and the limited take-up of BSNL and MTNL’s 3G services suggest that being the first mover may not always translate into market leadership.

The effective positioning of 3G services and the integration between services, handsets, and applications will be crucial to mass-market adoption of 3G services in India.

The question in everyone’s mind ahead of the launch of 3G services in India was whether it would trigger another price war. With its launch of “per second billing” in September 2009, Tata DOCOMO triggered a wave of price cuts in the Indian market that placed the margins of both new and existing players under significant pressure.

However, Tata’s introductory 3G pricing seems to indicate a different approach. The minimum recharge for 3G mobile services is the equivalent of $11, which is two and a half times higher than Tata’s current 2G mobile ARPU. It is also five times higher than the minimum monthly 3G recharge offered by BSNL and MTNL.

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