MUMBAI: The advent of 4G in India will bring major benefits to smartphone users, catalyse ecommerce and boost the online advertising market, a leading industry figure has said.

Rob Norman, the chief digital officer (global) for GroupM, part of WPP, told Livemint that the existing broadband infrastructure was neither particularly fast nor well-distributed.

"Even in affluent districts in Mumbai, you get very variable Internet connections that hold India back," he noted.

But Norman also said he expected 4G to change all that. "I think the future from the (view of) smartphones is going to be a very big benefit in India," he said.

"All of those things will catalyse e-commerce," he added. "And it's a key stage in the online advertising market, particularly it's where e-commerce becomes a significant part of GDP."

Norman said he did not expect this to take place at a uniform rate across the country, foreseeing instead a "three-speed digital development", based around economic and geographical factors

The fastest growth of ecommerce would be in "places where you have dense populations and significant economic activity and wealth", in part because the logistics were more easily manageable.

Places with a dense population and no wealth would be a second speed, followed by the third, "massively distributed populations in rural India".

Norman said he was also interested in the possible impact of a proposal by the Indian regulator to reduce the amount of advertising on television to 12 minutes per hour.

He expected to see some advertising move from TV to other platforms such as online video but added that an improved TV viewer experience could lead to higher audiences, in which case "television will carry on capturing very large amounts of money".

Data sourced from Livemint; additional content by Warc staff