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Digital revolution: India comes of age

Shivani Shinde & Priyanka Joshi  |  Mumbai 

India’s digital world has witnessed tremendous growth in the past decade. The telecom sector, in particular, saw an explosive growth in its subscriber base, cheaper services and the introduction of number portability and The entertainment sector also took to the trend with more and more Indians logging onto the the world wide web. However, the broadband subscriber base is still low. Shivani Shinde & Priyanka Joshi bring to you an overview of the growth story in the past decade.

The decade certainly belonged to the telecom sector. While the average revenue per user (APRU) continued a downward trend, India logged the fastest growing user base globally, after China. The user base has grown 110 times since 2001. However, the landline user base fell considerably.(Click for table & graph)

While Indian users made their presence felt on the Internet, the overall subscriber base in India remained disappointing. The problems that plagued 2001 seemed to persist. At present, penetration is approximately 0.8 per cent, while the country’s teledensity stands at 60.99 per cent (September 2010).


  • Nine million total subscriber base in 2001 
  • 31 million PC literate

* Prediction based on calculations on available data

  • 88 mn claimed users as of Sept 2010. 
  • March 2011 expected to touch 100 mn claimed users 
  • 2020: 500 mn expected users. 
    Source: and Mobile

Some important developments of the decade.

  • Digital ads less than 1% of India Inc’s ad budgets 
  • sets up its R&D centre in Bangalore 
  • acquired by eBay for around 250 crore 
  • Online matrimonial sites touch 4 million subscribers


  • user base clocks 54% growth from 38.5 million. 
  • market touches Rs 7,080 crore by 2007 
  • 32 million handsets being used in India 
  • 4.6 million Indian access online banking


  • gains mind share and user share 
  • 45 mn active user in India in 2008 
  • enters India in 2009 
  • MS launches Bing; launches Chrome 
  • IPL3 ties up with YouTube for live streaming 
  • advertisement to be 4.4% of corporate India 
  • takes over Orkut and Google 
    Source: IAMAI, TRAI, Juxt Consult, Ficci Frames 2010

Subho Ray,
President, and Association of India

The and industry looks at 2011 with hope.

What to expect: based on value proposition will see significant growth.

  • M-commerce will not match up to expectations but remain as an option. 
  • Broadband and users will grow, and the focus will be on providing connections to small towns and rural areas. 
  • 3G will allow better user experience. Search for the “killer App” will remain illusive. 
  • Stakeholders will walk the talk on providing unlimited connectivity at limited cost.

While television rules, PCs, handsets and iPods make headway. Bollywood went global and movies were simultaneously released on the web.

2000, Direct to Home (DTH) services introduced, DD added 4.6 mn users 

  • 2001, HBO, History Channel, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, VH1 and Disney enters India 
  • 2003, Dish TV launches services in October 

M&E industry touched Rs 30,800 crore in 2004, growing at CAGR of 19%.

  • 2005, FDI in radio sector. Reliance enters entertainment and radio 
  • 2006-07, IPTV launched by MTNL/BSNL

From just 3% user base in 2007, DTH subscriber base touch 20 mn by ‘09

  • Real Images, UFO and E-City equips over 3,000 theaters with digital technology 
  • Digital marketing replaces traditional promotional activities 
  • 2008, Home video market, cable & satellite rights rake in Rs 714 crore 
  • Gaming industry tracks revenue of Rs 650 crore in 2008

Entertainment sector estimated at Rs 22,200 cr, music industry shrinks to Rs 1,000 cr from Rs 1,350 cr in 2007

  • Time window reduced for movie releases in theatres and on DTH. Colours pays Rs 250 cr for rights of 30 Hindi films 
  • Facebook, YouTube and Twitter key part of movie marketing 
  • 3,000 digital screens have helped simultaneous release in more centres

Amit Khanna, Chairman, Convergence Committee of FICCI

The next decade will be truly the first 'Convergence Decade'. In a digital world lines between various entertainment platforms will start fading. A film will have different versions, to be enjoyed on different media. Access of voice, data and video will be ubiquitous and through various platforms. Similarly, we will use different devices to entertain and inform, and transact. Over all per capita spend on leisure will rise sharply.

Finally, even as pan-global entertainment (movies, TV, games) will rise, there will be an even stronger resurgence of regional media and content.

First Published: Fri, December 31 2010. 00:46 IST