Nokia India – announcing the MBiT report – said top 3 telecom operators’ 3G and 4G coverage grew 1.25x and 2.5x of 2G footprint last year.
Total data payload increased from 128PB to 165PB; 60 percent of the incremental data payload from 2015 levels was contributed by 4G.
LTE device ecosystem grew by 2.7x from the 2015 levels as device prices continued to decline.
Video and social networking together contribute to 65 percent-75 percent of traffic; communication and social media apps continue to drive engagement in terms of time spent.
Overall data traffic increased 29 percent in 2016.
Watch Amit Marwah, head, End-to-End Sales Solutioning, India Market, Nokia, revealing the highlights of the report.
Important inputs to telecoms
In 2016, on average fiberized sites were 20 percent of total sites in India – pointing to an immediate requirement to increase fiberization of towers.
China Mobile has made investment in fibre for covering 95 percent of all cell sites. AT&T has made investment in fibre for 90 percent of all its 4G cell sites. T-Mobile has made investment in fibre for covering 95 percent of its 4G sites and 50 percent of its all sites.
Globally, operators across developed markets have started implementing CA, predominantly in the 1.8GHz and 2.6GHz bands. The currently lagging CA handset ecosystem is expected to improve with more CA deployments.
Globally, small cell deployment is in its early stage; new-age technologies such as IoT/ M2M communication are expected to push future deployments.
Nokia said small cells deployment further lay an essential push toward fiberization due to regulatory and operational complexities of using microwave backhaul. Indoor data consumption demands will increase the need for small cells as a localized coverage and capacity solution.
Data traffic growth
3G data traffic grew 25 percent, while 4G contributed to 13 percent of the total data consumption. 2G data volumes dipped for the first time in 2016 as compared to the 12 percent growth in 2015, as 2G subscribers continued to migrate.
Data consumption on 4G networks reached 22 PB and is expected to exponentially increase in the coming year.
4G data subs, who are only 13 percent of the 3G subs base, contribute 4G data payload equivalent to 21 percent of 3G payload.
3G traffic consumption in Metro circles in 2016 remained flat. It contributed to 57 percent of total metro traffic in 2016. 2G traffic declined for the first time in metro circles, while its contribution to total metro data consumption declined from 29 percent in 2015 to 17 percent in 2016.
3G traffic in Category A circles grew by 30 percent from 2015 to 2016. It contributed to 67 percent of the total category A traffic in 2016. 2G traffic also declined for the first time in category A circles, while its contribution to total circles’ data consumption declined from 35 percent in 2015 to 20 percent in 2016.
3G traffic in Category B circles grew by 33 percent from 2015 to 2016. It contributed to 61 percent of the total category B traffic in 2016. Contrary to metro and category A circles, 2G traffic increased in category B circles by 4 percent, while its contribution to circles’ data consumption decreased from 38 percent in 2015 to 29 percent in 2016.
3G traffic in Category C circles grew by 32 percent from 2015 to 2016. It contributed to 54 percent of the total category C traffic in 2016. As compared to other circles, 2G traffic witnessed the fastest growth in category C with an increase of 14 percent over 2015, while its contribution to circles’ data consumption decreased from 44 percent in 2015 to 37 percent in 2016.
3G and 2G saw a 13 percent and 18 percent increase, respectively, over the data usage/sub from 2015 levels. This can be attributed to better networks, device capabilities and availability of relevant content ecosystem. Incumbents witnessed a healthy 4G consumption of 1,400+ MB/sub. Even with limited 4G penetration, India’s 4G consumption per user reached ~70 percent of the average consumption for some developed markets.
Mobile data devices
43 percent of all mobile devices shipped in 2016 were smartphones. 4G-enabled smartphones saw a 2.7x increase over the last year, while 3G-enabled smartphones witnessed a 1.2x increase.
Entry level price for a 4G handset dropped to INR 3,0002 in 2016, while average selling price (ASP) of top 25 selling 4G phones was ~INR 10,0002. In 2016, 13 percent of the 4G smartphone users had 4G connections and 35 percent of the 3G smartphone users had 3G connections, implying a significant growth opportunity for operators.
3G device penetration increased by ~6 percent over the last year, from 32 percent in 2015 to 38 percent in 2016 at a pan-India level; highest increase was seen in category A circles, which saw an increase of 9 percent.
4G device penetration reached 12 percent at a pan-India level. Metro circles (22 percent) observed the highest penetration of 4G devices with Mumbai and Delhi circles at 26 percent and 23 percent penetration, respectively.
LTE-capable devices support ~5 LTE bands on an average. In India, LTE is currently offered on the 800, 1800, 2100 and 2300 MHz bands. In some circles, operators have deployed 3G or LTE on the 2100MHz band. Device ecosystem for LTE 700MHz is currently at a nascent stage with only 15 percent of LTE devices supporting the band; however, it is evolving rapidly.
Video continued to drive data traffic, with direct and indirect channels together contributing 55 percent-65 percent of total data traffic. Social media and communication was the driver of user engagement in terms of time spent.
The share of consumption of streaming services (video and audio) can increase up to 20 percent-25 percent for a 4G user compared to a 3G user.