In this blog post, we mentioned that India is the #2 market in terms of Internet users behind China. But did you know that India was the #2 telecommunications market in terms of subscribers since 2008?
The telecom revolution stated in India on July 31st 1995 with a mobile call between the then WB chief minister, Jyoti Basu, and Union communications minister, Sukh Ram. Since then, mobile phones have permeated everywhere in India. There are 1,036 million telecom subscribers, 97% of these being mobile subscribers. The urban mobile teledensity is a mind boggling 147, 3x higher than rural at 49 (overall mobile teledensity of 79.2).
With such high penetration numbers, every telecom operator is now turning towards data to increase revenues. The growing smartphone penetration in India, driven by cheap handsets is expected to fuel this. In 2016, smart phone shipments are expected to overtake that of feature phones with analysts pointing out factors that can drive the average price of a smartphone further down from Rs.10,700/- in 2015.
While users in India are still more concerned about voice quality than data services (and the leading telecom operator has tried to take the high ground on this aspect with the open network campaign), among smart phone users elsewhere, data speed is considered to be the most important factor in determining both network performance and satisfaction with an operator.
[Here’s a quick look at the data in the infographic above (2015 data) :
- 1,010.9 million wireless telecom subscribers
- 311.7 million wireless internet subscribers
- 60% of these connections are on GPRS/Edge networks
- 36% on 3G technologies such as HSPA/WCDMA
- & only 0.8% of connections are on 4g networks technologies such as EVDO/CDMA/LTE
- The average mobile connection speed was 1,016 kbps with…
- … the average 2G speed at 77 kbps
- … the average 3G speed at 1,932 kbps and
- … the average 4G speed at 9,415 kbps
- The average mobile-connected end-user device generated 149 megabytes of mobile data traffic per month
- Average non-smartphone generated 49 megabytes of mobile data traffic
- Average smartphone generated 430 megabytes of mobile data traffic per month
- 9x more mobile data traffic per month than a basic handset
- Within this, the average 4G smartphone generated 1,256 MB of traffic per month in 2015, compared to 430 MB for non-4G smartphones.
- Average tablet generated 1,671 megabytes of mobile data traffic per month
- 34x more mobile data traffic per month than a basic handset
- There are an estimated 239 million mobile connected smartphones, 23.9% of device connections, and they generated 69.1% of total mobile traffic
- Incidentally, India has overtaken Japan to become the world’s third largest smartphone market
- There are 3.8 million tablets, 0.4% of device connections generating 4.2% of total mobile traffic
- In India, mobile video traffic is estimated to grow 20.8-fold from 2015 to 2020, a compound annual growth rate of 83%.
- Currently, web and other data applications generate about 48% of mobile data traffic, Video generates 40% , streaming audio generates 10% and file-sharing the balace 2% of India’s mobile data traffic
- Currently web browsing, emailing and social networking are the top three internet activities on smartphones ]
What these numbers tell you is that Indians are embracing the internet on the mobile, not PC. And this mobile Internet is currently work and social networking related. Going forward it will be increasingly video.
However, the quantum of consumption is still low. For example, the 430 MB consumed at an average speed of 2.643 kbps by an average smartphone on an average mobile connection is good enough to stream about half a movie in SD quality from Netflix. And, if you are going to use a social network like Facebook exclusively, it will last you about 4-5 hours (1 -2 MB per minute). These are of course averages. There is always the pareto principle, 33.9 Million mobile users (~11% of total mobile internet users) consume over 2 gigabytes of data per month. And it is from survey of these users, that you hear the hype about mobiles and apps.
The next few years are going to be exciting in this space, launch of multiple high spec smartphones at Rs.10,000 price points, roll out of 4G LTE (and imminent data price wars) and better last mile connectivity will further fuel mobile data consumption.
- Ravindra Ramavath