Despite being the second largest nation in the world, both in terms of people and mobile phone subscribers, India has nearly the lowest telecom revenue per user (ARPU) in the world. The number of mobile phone subscribers in India, just under one billion, is more than three times what it was in 2008, but it’s ARPU is still more than four times less than the ARPU in China, and more than 24 times less than the ARPU in the U.S. While much of this has to do with low call prices due to intense competition between MNOs (India has 13 different telecom operators), a major factor in the low ARPU is declining user spending on voice.

Source: Zinnov

Where things start to look brighter is in the new found focus and spending by users on mobile value added services (MVAS). Increased smartphone adoption and growing mobile internet penetration have led operators to increase the value added services they offer to their subscribers. Operators across India now offer mobile services related to:

  • Health: MNOs have partnered with healthcare companies to help users find hospitals, schedule appointments, get medical advice, and facilitate their treatment
  • Education: Partnering with various NGOs, MNOs now offer real-time interactive courses, IVR-based education, and additional initiatives aimed at underprivileged children.
  • Commerce: Mobile payment systems have already taken off in India, encouraging telcos to offer other services such as microfinance, retailing, and mobile wallet.
  • Infotainment: Users can subscribe to various infotainment services, receiving everything from sports scores and travel updates, to ringtones and mythological stories, all on their mobile phones.
  • Agriculture: Services for farmers help provide them access to market conditions, commodity prices, weather updates, and more.

These services, and more, have led to a steady increase in MVAS revenue over the past few years. In 2012, the MVAS market in India is expected to reach $5.1 billion, growing to roughly $6.6 billion in 2013, a more than threefold increase from 2009. As more Indian consumers gain access to mobile web and inexpensive smartphones, this number will continue to grow.

Click here for the detailed full report on India’s telecom market.

What sort of new mobile value added services do you see coming to the Indian telecom market in the future? Let us know on Twitter: @Jana