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India’s mobile subscription base to exceed 1.4 billion by 2022: report

LiveMint logoLiveMint 14-06-2017 Nandita Mathur

New Delhi: Global mobile subscriptions are growing at around 4% year-on-year, reaching 7.6 billion in the first quarter. India grew the most in terms of net additions during the quarter (+43 million), followed by China (+24 million), Indonesia (+10 million), Pakistan (+5 million) and Nigeria (+3 million). The strong subscription growth in India was mainly due to an attractive “welcome offer” by Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, with free voice and data. These are the key findings from the Ericsson Mobility Report released on Wednesday in New Delhi.

According to the report, Digital India is driving data usage. India’s mobile subscription base crossed the 1.2 billion mark in January 2017 and is set to exceed 1.4 billion in 2022. In 2017, smartphone subscriptions in India are expected to represent around 30% of all mobile subscriptions. By 2022, this number is expected to reach over 60% while smartphone subscriptions are set to reach 890 million, and data traffic per smartphone to reach almost 11 GB per month. One of the key drivers of this growth will be increased smartphone penetration in rural areas.

Between 2016 and 2022, total mobile data traffic is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 40%, reaching almost 8 exabytes (EB) of data per month compared to around 1 EB of data consumption by the end of 2016. This growing data consumption has been spurred by fast-paced smartphone adoption, changing user behaviour and disruptive pricing strategies. Increased distribution and consumption of video and multimedia services is also playing a role, as is the growth in mobile banking transactions and digital payment systems. By the end of 2016, 94% of mobile data traffic was smartphone traffic. By 2022, this number will be around 97%.

According to the report, data is generating far more traffic than voice calls. The interest in video streaming continues to grow. Today, consumers are increasingly watching videos on their smartphones. Social media services and apps, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, are no longer used solely to post and share messages, but to stream videos as well. The ability to watch live broadcasts of user-generated and professional content on existing apps has also increased the appeal of live streaming.

Growing smartphone penetration and rapidly changing data usage patterns have focused attention on network performance in India, where smartphone owners have devised their own mental indices to measure and evaluate network performance. Top four indicators consumers use to judge network performance in India are: time taken to upload pictures to social media, time taken to open a web page, time taken for a video to buffer or load and download time for email attachments. For 40% of 4G users, video loading and video buffering while streaming is the main index by which they judge network performance. For almost half of 3G users, the time taken to load a web page is the prime indicator of a positive experience. Consumers 4G usage behaviour is skewed towards data-centric services -- 4G users are nearly 1.5 times more satisfied than 3G users in India .

According to Nitin Bansal, head of network products, Ericsson India, “As new apps continue to emerge and usage behaviour evolves, network performance will play an even bigger role in determining smartphone users’ loyalty towards their operators. In fact, mobile broadband experience in India is five times more effective in driving loyalty than tariff structure and pricing.”

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