India’s mobile Internet user growth revealed by TRAI

mobile data traffic to explode
Telecom regulator TRAI says India’s wireless data usage grew 58 percent to 451,185 TB in March quarter in 2016 from 285,431 TB March quarter in 2015.

The subscriber base, which used wireless Internet, has grown 16 percent to 31.35 crore in March 2106 from 27.04 crore in March 2105.

Only 31.35 crore wireless subscribers used Internet out of a total wireless subscriber base of 103.37 crore at the end of March, 2016. The penetration of wireless Internet in the country was 30 percent at the end of March, 2016, said TRAI.

As per a World Bank report, a 10 percent increase in broadband Internet penetration increases the per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 1.38 percent in the developing countries. About 94 percent subscribers who use Internet consume it on their mobile handsets or wirelessly.

The 16 percent growth in mobile Internet subscriber base during the last financial year is despite the fact telecom network operators such as Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone, Reliance Communications and BSNL are making investment in 2G, 3G and 4G networks.

Lack of availability of spectrum at affordable prices has impacted the telecom network operators’ investment plans in India. The forthcoming spectrum auction, which will be offering significantly higher quantity of bandwidth, will not be exciting for telecoms because of higher prices. Two recent analyst reports said telecoms will be buying spectrum to the tune of $12 billion to $15 billion, and there will be less demand for 700 MHz band.

The spectrum auction, which will be delayed to August – September 2016, will be crucial for telecom operators such as Vodafone and Idea Cellular to enhance their mobile Internet revenues. Since Bharti Airtel has already signed deals with Videocon Telecom and Aircel to buy their 4G spectrum, Airtel may not be a strong bidder during the next round of spectrum auction.

Since the base price of spectrum this year is above expectation of the Indian telecom industry, Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Jio Infocomm will not be looking at the 700 MHz band.

The good news is that the 58 percent increase wireless data usage. India’s mobile Internet growth will enhance if the government is ready to sell spectrum at affordable prices and telecoms are ready to make investment in mobile data networks.

Baburajan K