Nokia Networks’ MBit Index study, an annual report on mobile broadband performance in India, reveals a 74% increase in mobile data traffic generated by both 2G and 3G mobile broadband services at the end of 2014, compared to the beginning the same year.
This rise was primarily driven by a strong 3G growth with 114% increase, while the 2G data traffic growth was reported to be 41%.
According to the study, 3G data consumption was 52% of the total data consumption in December 2014 as against 42% in January 2014. September 2014 witnessed 3G data consumption surpassing 2G use across India. On an average 3G data use increased to 688 MB per month in 2014, indicating a 29% jump compared to 2013. On an average 2G data use also increased to 216 MB per month, indicating a 48% jump, and improvements in 2G network quality for mobile broadband access. Also on an average a 3G user consumed 3.2 times more data than a 2G user in 2014. The study also revealed an increase in the Smartphone use in 2014, as consumers increasingly migrated to smart devices due to their affordability.
Sandeep Girotra, Vice President and Head of India Region, Nokia Networks, said: “The 2014 study results clearly show the strong momentum of 3G in India, which has been the primary driver for the data traffic growth. A surge in 3G and 4G compatible Smartphone use underlines the greater need for operators to expand the 3G network coverage and selectively rollout 4G services for higher speeds across all the circles while modernizing the existing 2G networks.”
Implications for network operators:
· 3G and 2G complement each other: 3G is driving the data growth but 2G data growth is stabilizing. Hence, operators need to sustain the 2G networks while continuing to strengthen and expand 3G networks.
· Rollout 3G networks in newer geographies: While 3G data consumption is primarily driven by increasing data consumption, per user with the subscriber base remaining more or less flat, it is imperative for operators to focus on increasing the 3G subscriber base, adding more and more active 3G data subscribers.
· Empower Smartphone users: Operators need to encourage the untapped Smartphone user base to subscribe to 3G services, with a special focus on B and C circles**. Specialized 3G services plans can be launched for Smartphone users to promote 3G data consumption. India has about 130 mn active 3G capable devices but only 69.9 mn subscribers are active 3G users. It indicates a significant opportunity for further 3G penetration in the country.
· 4G devices available, service expansion needed: Although 4G in India is in its early stage, the country already has 5.5 mn 4G capable devices but only about 85,000 subscribers are active LTE users. It indicates another significant opportunity for selective rollout of 4G networks and services in the country.
Did you know?
In 2014, the growth of mobile broadband traffic in India prompted many operators expanding their 3G and 4G networks. Nokia Networks, with its latest Single RAN (radio access network) Advanced platform, helped Bharti Airtel and Tata DOCOMO expand their 3G networks across several circles in India. In addition, Nokia Networks has recently been selected by Bharti Airtel for launching India’s first FDD-LTE 4G network on the 1800 MHz and expanding its TD-LTE 4G network on the 2300 MHz.