4G technology has powered 92 percent of data traffic in India in 2018 — driven by 432 million 4G subscribers, Nokia’s Mobile Broadband India Traffic (MBiT) Index study said today.
India has 432 million 4G subscribers and 74 million 3G subscribers in 2018. Reliance Jio has 280 million 4G subscribers, according to TRAI data. The balance 152 million 4G subscribers are with Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel.
Telecom regulator TRAI says India has 499.95 million mobile broadband customers and 18.17 wired broadband users in 2018.
The average data usage grew 69 percent in 2018 to 10GB per user per month in December 2018. Drop in data tariffs coupled with the availability of 4G devices led to the growth of the number of 4G subscribers by 137 percent, Nokia said.
Category B and C circles witnessed the highest increase in 4G traffic in 2018 thanks to the growing popularity of video streaming and video content in local languages on the various Over-The-Top (OTT) applications.
The emergence of media apps, like TikTok, was one of the drivers of an increase in video consumption. WhatsApp and Instagram are the leading social networking apps.
4G data traffic grew 132 percent whereas 3G data traffic remained stagnant with a de-growth of 1 percent as customers shifted from 4G smartphones from 3G phones. 4G data traffic grew across all categories. Category B and Category C circles saw higher growth rates in 2018 than previous year due to network roll out in these circles.
The current broadband penetration in India is at around 45 percent, which is at a much lower level compared to China at 72 percent, and other European nations at around 85-95 percent.
4G capable device penetration reached more than 50 percent at a pan-India level in 2018 up from 22 percent in 2017. 3G smartphone base rose 1.2 times. 4G smartphone base grew 1.5 times in 2018.
Telecoms deployed LTE on spectrum bands of 1800, 2300 and 850 MHz, reflected by LTE device penetration by spectrum band. While TDD 2500 has exhibited double digit growth, not all devices support entire TDD 2500, Nokia said.
Indian telecoms will need to enhance coverage and capacity in the rural sector to meet customer demand for video streaming services. Nokia did not reveal the Capex of Indian mobile operators for 2018.
India’s top mobile data service providers are Reliance Jio Infocomm with 280.12 million, Vodafone Idea with 107.90 million, Bharti Airtel with 97.99 million and BSNL with 11.38 million subscribers in 2018.