A CRISIL report expects the mobile data usage in India to multiply by four times by 2022. In the last five years, India’s mobile data consumption per subscriber grew at a CAGR of 80% to 1.25 GB per month on increasing adoption of 3G and 4G services. This rise in data usage was fueled by free data services offered by Reliance Jio Infocomm ltd. In fact, the peak data usage recorded by Reliance Jio, during the free services period reached dizzying heights of 5-6 GB, when compared to the industry average of 1.25 GB per month. In the last fiscal year itself, there was a steep fall in tariffs amounting to 40%. The credit rating agency expects the data usage growth to moderate to 12% annually in the next 5 years and touch 2-2.5 GB.
The report went on to say that mobile data consumption has grown by 24 times in the last 5 years. According to the report, higher data usage is strongly linked to higher speeds, and this seems to be the country’s Achilles heel. A comparison of speeds across countries indicated that India’s 4G speed is less than half of South Korea. The report also opines that the advances in infrastructure will significantly bring down the costs and increase speeds significantly for the user.
While many industry insiders were betting on the overall industry usage to reach Rjio’s peak levels, the report cautions that there are bottlenecks and the average data per user will be around 2.3 GB by 2022. After the five year growth period of 2022, as the data penetration increases steeply, the telecom companies will find it difficult to boost incremental volume growth, and that;s when usage could stabilise with Wifi infrastructure also expanding rapidly.
The report also had an interesting take on India’s mobile usage patterns. It said that videos contribute to 80% of total data traffic. This figure is higher than China’s 77%. The video browsing is dominated by regional languages, nearly 60% belonging to Hindi and 35% to other Indian languages. The evolution of content in these languages will further impel penetration and growth in the rural areas. As compared with the adults from the United States who spend around 3.2 hours a day on the mobile, Indians spend around three hours, with bulk of the time on social media and messaging apps.