Nokia has launched the 8th edition of its Mobile Broadband India Traffic Index (MBiT) 2021, outlining mobile broadband performance in India during 2020.
The report highlights that the data traffic in India has grown approximately 60-fold over the last five years, which is one of the highest global increases. In 2020 data traffic grew by 36% year-on-year driven by 4G data consumption, with around 100 million new 4G subscribers added during 2020, taking India’s total to over 700 million. 4G alone constituted nearly 99% of total data traffic consumed across the country.
According to the study, the average monthly data usage per user reached 13.5 GB in December 2020, growing over 20% annually owing to an increase in data subscribers and mobile video consumption. New users from rural areas also contributed to the rising monthly data usage. Mobile emerged as primary source of entertainment and productivity as an average Indian spent approximately 5 hours daily on a smartphone - one of the highest averages globally. Short video format was the fastest-growing content category; total time spent monthly on short content is expected to grow four times by 2025 as internet users surge.
In terms of devices, the report reveals that the 4G device base surpassed 607 million units to reach a 77% penetration level. VoLTE devices constituted 93% of total LTE handsets. There are already 2 million active 5G devices in use across the country, and double-digit growth is expected in 2021 for the smartphone industry as people embrace hybrid work models, e-learning, and consume content over OTT platforms. The launch of low-cost 4G smartphones will provide the necessary headroom for data growth with a significant number of 2G/3G subscribers potentially upgrading to a 4G smartphone.
The 2021 MBiT report also explores the potential of fixed broadband. With only 22 million fixed broadband subscribers, there is a significant growth opportunity for this segment. As India prepares to launch 5G amidst COVID-19, fixed broadband accessibility through Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and FTTx will help generate a new revenue stream for operators.
Sanjay Malik, Senior Vice President & Head of India Market, Nokia, said: “5G has huge potential for value creation in India as the pace of digitization is accelerating. The phenomenal growth in data consumption in India will drive demand for enhanced broadband and fixed capacity. Industry 4.0 with various IoT and enterprise use cases, immersive applications experience (AR/VR), smart home, factory and public safety use cases will spur LTE, 5G growth and data usage further.”