Nokia MBiT Index reports 4G contributed to 92% of total data traffic in 2018 in India

  • Overall data traffic grew by 109%
  • Average data usage per month reached 10 GB    
  • Development of 5G use cases will accelerate the adoption of 5G in the field of manufacturing, public safety, connected homes and healthcare

New Delhi/Gurgaon, India - Nokia's annual Mobile Broadband India Traffic (MBiT) Index study of mobile broadband performance in India reveals that the increase in the consumption of data across the country led to overall growth of data traffic by 109% with 4G technology constituting 92% of this growth. The average data usage grew by 69% in 2018 to touch 10GB per user per month in December 2018. Significant drop in data tariffs coupled with the availability of economical 4G devices led to the growth of the number of 4G subscribers by 137%. Further, the widespread migration of users from 3G to 4G devices also contributed to the increase in the consumption of 4G data traffic in the country.

This growth in the consumption of 4G data traffic is in line with the Indian Government's vision to develop the country into a digital economy. A growing number of people in the country are experiencing broadband for the first time on mobile and are now becoming aware of the vast opportunities of broadband in the country.

Category B and C circles witnessed the highest increase in 4G traffic in 2018. This growth is led by the growing popularity of video streaming and video content in local languages on the various Over-The-Top (OTT) applications. The emergence of new media apps, like TikTok, has further led to an increase in video consumption. As the popularity of video streaming increases, the telcos will need to provide better coverage and capacity in the rural sector as well.

Not surprisingly, the 4G growth has come at the cost of 3G data traffic, which has recorded a marginal decrease in 2018. By the end of 2018, there were more than five times as many 4G subscribers as there are 3G subscribers.

Sanjay Malik, Head of India Market, Nokia said: "The significant increase of data consumption in India is a positive development and will be a key factor in the overall social and economic growth of the country. The surge in broadband consumption is likely to continue in the next few years since the current broadband penetration is just 45% in the country. Further, the growth will be fueled by 4G network expansions as telcos enhance the coverage and provide better network experience to the end consumer. Going forward, the service providers will need to expand the 4G network and evolve their network infrastructure to support 5G in near future."

Other key findings of Nokia MBiT Index study:

  • WhatsApp and Instagram are the leading social networking app among subscribers
  • The 4G network rollouts will continue this year and the service providers will start preparing the networks for 5G to gain early mover advantage
  • 3G and 4G devices base grew by 1.2 times and 1.5 times respectively in 2018
  • Cheaper data plans coupled with unlimited video streaming packages led to an unprecedented surge in video 
  • OTT players have gained significantly due to operator tie-ups and aggressive 4G network expansion, with high consumption on their platforms
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