Indian 4G operator Reliance Jio propels global mobile data traffic

Reliance Jio subscriber base Q3 2017India’s leading 4G operator Reliance Jio that entered the market in September 2016 has propelled the global mobile data traffic in the third quarter of 2017.

Reliance Jio – promoted by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, started offering free voice and data services just before the fourth quarter of 2016 forcing Indian operators Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, BSNL and Vodafone to follow suit.

The chart prepared by India Ratings indicates about the subscriber growth of Reliance Jio in India as compared with Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, BSNL, Aircel, Tata Docomo, among others.

Mobile data traffic rose 114 percent in Q3 2017, fuelled by Reliance Jio’s disruption of the Indian telecom market and by the growing impact of unlimited data plans globally.

Average usage per SIM card increased from 0.7GB per month in Q3 2016 to 1.5GB per month in Q3 2017. Non-SMS data services now account for 55 percent of all mobile service revenue globally, said a Strategy Analytics report.

In fact, mobile data traffic growth reached a six-year high in Q3 2017, increasing 115 percent globally year on year. In addition to Reliance Jio, telecom operators such as China Unicom and Vodafone were the growth drivers in Q3 2017.

The report said telecom operators in Europe and China offered more data with enough profit to support its future business. But Indian telecom operators felt the heat due to the aggressive marketing of Reliance Jio.

Earelier, social media network Facebook admitted that its global business increased thanks to free offers from Reliance Jio.

“It is encouraging to see more success stories from operators using unlimited or zero-rated pricing to unlock growth in both revenue and profitability,” said Phil Kendall, director, Service Provider Group, Strategy Analytics.

Strategy Analytics in its telecom analysis said that India and China accounted for half of all traffic growth globally, with Jio’s continued disruption in India, and strong growth in unlimited data plans in China driving both of those markets. In Europe, Vodafone has enjoyed healthy early traction for its zero-rated Passes.

Reliance Jio, the largest 4G operator in India based on coverage and subscriber base, was carrying more data traffic than any mobile operator globally within six months of launch. But Jio’s marketing strategy forced rivals to give up on profit from mobile Internet business.

Unlimited mobile data plans have driven accelerated traffic growth in China. Mobile data surged 166 percent in Q3 2017 in China, and have generated a healthy recovery in both service revenue and EBITDA. China Unicom has tied up with local Internet giants to add value to data plans.

Vodafone had 8 million customers using Passes by the end of September, with a positive impact on ARPU and usage. It has delivered 2.6x growth in traffic in Europe over the last two years with near-flat OPEX.

Vodafone’s strategy was to focus on more targeted and segmented market offers in Europe, addressing discrete demand for messaging, music and video services within those segments.

“Operators need to evaluate both their market environment and customer segment priorities when contemplating unlimited plan options,” said Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, director, Service Provider Strategies, Strategy Analytics.

Baburajan K