Businesses might be terming data as the new oil; for consumers, it is an addiction that just grows bigger by the day. Entertainment, news, communication, all is at the fingertips, and with competition intensifying in the telecom sector, subscribers are making the most of dirt cheap data prices, better speeds, free voice and other offerings.
So no wonder then that the latest numbers by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) show that mobile users in India consumed a whopping 88.68 lakh terabytes (TB) of 4G data during April-June 2018 compared to 15.49 lakh TB of 2G and 3G combined (1TB equals 1,000GB).
This translates into 4G accounting for 85% of the total wireless data consumed in the country, which is an all-time high. For comparison sake, during July-September 2017, 4G data consumption versus 2G+3G was in the ratio of 80:20.
With operators increasingly adopting 4G and VoLTE services, subscribers are experiencing faster data speeds, which, in turn, is fuelling videos and music consumption, translating into higher data usage.
Indians are anyway among the most prolific users of smartphones globally. Going ahead, with the industry consolidating into three large players and one state-owned service provider, a stiffer competition is expected in a bid to gain higher market share, which means that the focus is now on enhancing customer experience.
Data prices, too, have witnessed an unprecedented fall during this period, especially since the commercial launch of Reliance Jio in September 2016. Prices plunged multi-fold to `3.5 per GB in September 2018 from around Rs 250 per GB two years back.
This is also showing in the internet and smartphone growth. India, which had around 199 million internet users in 2015, saw this number swell to around 300 million in 2017 calendar year. Similarly, smartphone shipments, which stood at around 300 million in 2015, rose to 420 million in 2017.
The competitive intensity in the sector continued during the April-June 2018 quarter as operators offered discounts and top-ups to lure subscribers, both prepaid and postpaid. For instance, Bharti was offering its prepaid subscribers 2GB 4G data per day for 28 days with free voice for `149 per month, while Vodafone was offering 1.5GB data per day for the same price and validity. This was to counter Jio’s `149 plan, which offered 1.5 GB 4G data per day.
Analysts now anticipate 4G data consumption to rise further as operators focus on providing more content to subscribers in a bid to increase market share, as well as to ring fence the existing ones. They are investing on digital offerings and, in turn, a burgeoning digital ecosystem is revolutionising consumption. For instance, between March 2016 and August 2018, the total video watch time rose nine-10 times to about 14 billion minutes per day, as per a Kotak report.
The latest example on this is from Bharti Airtel, which is now enticing prepaid and postpaid users with premium digital content, smartphone purchase offers and online shopping vouchers to encourage them to spend more on their mobile bills. Other operators are expected to follow suit.
Source: Financial Express