With India recently overtaking the United States as the second largest mobile market and well on its way to 1 billion unique subscribers by 2020, it’s no surprise that the GSMA is emphasizing its focus on this market.
We were fortunate enough to be invited by the GSMA to help shape the content for this event and speak on a panel titled “Accelerating digital inclusion in India”. Fortunately, we weren’t too busy to take in some of the week’s content and gain some valuable insights.
Here are some of our biggest takeaways from the week at GSMA Mobile 360 India 2016.
Pre-Conference News - Impact of New E-Waste Rules
Every year, the Government of India in the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change releases new E-waste (Management) Rules. This year, they've introduced a new wrinkle that we haven’t seen in the past.
There is now a mandate that OEMs must repurpose at least 30% of the volume of devices they sell annually. But this mandate goes beyond properly recycling old devices—secondary markets now come into play.
For the first time, the e-waste rules leave “repurposing” to mean anything from collecting old devices to reusing, reselling, recycling them and more. Operators in India aren’t in the business of distributing handsets like they are in the United States, but this new e-waste mandate has everyone looking to gain experience.
India’s new mandates weren’t necessarily part of the Mobile 360 conference, but they came to light in the same week and gave us something to think about as we moved into the event.
4 Themes from GSMA Mobile 360 India
The GSMA packed Mobile 360 India 2016 with great content, but there were a few main themes that seemed to persist throughout the week. Here are the 4 that stood out most to me:
- Eliminating Spectrum Scarcity: India's government has committed to spectrum sharing, spectrum trading and auctioning off large volumes of spectrum in an effort to push India from spectrum scarcity to spectrum surplus. With 4G LTE on the rise and 5G on its way, spectrum scarcity will become increasingly limiting for operators and it seemed they were excited to see a change in government. The challenge now turns to economics—making spectrum more affordable.
- Making Mobility a Fundamental Part of Indian Life: There has been a major initiative throughout India to create universal identity cards—but with so much of the country still living in deeply remote areas and limitations of social taboos, this has been a difficult task. The theme at GSMA Mobile 360 was to push these identity cards to be tied to mobile devices. There will be challenges when getting the country to open bank accounts, but the goal is to make healthcare, finances, and more all channel through these mobile phone identity cards.
- Empowering the Women of India: Part of the problem with getting mobile phones in the hands of women in India is affordability. Families can only afford one phone and the man of the household often has it. Yet, there are also social taboos to contend with as the patriarchal society often doesn’t believe women should have phones. Women represent a $40 billion opportunity and one of the biggest themes of was how NGOs and telcos are working to unlock that revenue.
- Catering to Rural India: While mobile services are gaining steam in urban areas like Delhi, rural India is often left behind. This is why upwards of 95% of retail transactions are done with cash. However, this indicates a big opportunity for operators. Some rural families have to travel a day or more just to see a bank, which is why these families don’t have bank accounts. Making life easier for those in rural India proved to be a key theme at Mobile 360-India 2016.
After such a great week at GSMA Mobile 360 India 2016, it seems clear that this event will return to consistent basis. India might already be the second largest mobile market, but it also represents one of the fastest growing markets in the world.
There are great opportunities for companies in all aspects of the mobile supply chain, and we learned a lot at GSMA Mobile 360 India.
If you want to learn more about how these trends apply to our goals for sustainability and the secondary market for mobile devices, contact us today for more information or get started on your own mobile device trade-in program today!
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