Tamil Nadu leads in 3G towers, Delhi leads in 3G penetration in India

Tamil Nadu, including Chennai, has the highest number of 3G-enabled towers in India, while Delhi has the highest 3G penetration in India, according to official numbers.

In fact, at present, Delhi has more 3G towers than Maharashtra (which, in telecom license area, excludes Mumbai, but is still 206 times bigger than the national capital.)

The National Capital Region had a total of 8,405 3G towers as of the end of November 2012, while the entire state of Maharashtra, excluding Mumbai, had 8,377 towers (base stations).

In all, 610 districts out of the total 640 had at least one 3G tower.

The highest number of 3G towers were in Tamil Nadu; perhaps not so surprising as it has Chennai in it. In fact, the three southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka were all there in the top 5 3G-enabled states in India.

Andhra Pradesh was ahead of Karnataka, which contains India’s IT capital Bangalore. However, Karnataka does have to worry much as a large number of towers, 4026 to be precise, are going to be added in that state in the four months from December 2012 to March 2012.

The above states were followed by the usual suspects of Gujarat, Mumba, UP West, Madhya Pradesh etc.. It must, however, be said that if Uttar Pradesh was to be taken as a single region (instead of being divided into East and West), UP would be ranked as number 2 with 9,165 3G wireless base stations.

The poorest penetration, as of November, was in the hilly states in the North East, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa and Assam.

Due to plans by the operators to install new towers this year, Karnataka will jump two places to rise to the third position by the end of March, and remain there till March 2014, going by plans made by 3G telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Aircel, Tata DoCoMo and Reliance Communications.

The plans also reveal that the highest growth in 3G coverage in the four months from December to March will be in Karnataka, followed by Tamil Nadu and Bihar, both of which will add about 1710 towers in these four months (see the red portion in the graph below).

The highest growth is planned in Delhi, where the total number of towers is slated to reach 12,633 by the end of March 2014, up by about 50% from where it is now.

Most of the costly circles like Delhi and Mumbai are with the top 3 operators, Reliance, Airtel and Vodafone, while the ‘second rung’ circles are mostly with operators like Aircel, Tata DoCoMo and Idea Cellular.

Operators like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have inked sharing agreements under which they use each other’s assets to offer 3G services in states where they did not win spectrum, though the government is trying to put a stop to the practice.

India is a market with just around 15 million DSL connections, despite having an estimated 250 million households. 3G and 4G wireless broadband are expected to take the number of people who have access to broadband to hundreds of millions in the coming months.

3G rollout started about 2 years ago in the big cities, and reached most of the smaller cities about 6 months ago. However, most cities in India do not have any form of high-speed wireless Internet available.