NSN study shows 87% jump in Indian mobile data traffic in 2013

New Delhi: There was a jump of 98 per cent in data traffic in India during 2013, generated by 2G and 3G services.


According to the MBit Index study by Nokia Solutions and Networks, an annual report on mobile broadband performance in India, 3G data traffic leapt by 146 per cent, surpassing the world average that is roughly doubling every year. 2G data traffic continues to stabilize, growing by 59 per cent over the same period. 


Mobile data traffic generated by 3G services more than doubled in India in 2013, a rate much higher than growth seen in other parts of the world where mobile broadband data is expanding at 100 per cent on average.


This trend is in line with NSN’s Technology Vision 2020 that mobile networks will need to be readied to profitably deliver one gigabyte of personalized data per user per day by 2020.


NSN’s MBit Index also shows that 3G users continue to consume more data on average than 2G users. In December 2013, a 3G user consumed 532 megabyte of data compared to 146 megabyte consumption over 2G. In some of the major urban centers the average data consumption per user is as high as one gigabyte per month, indicating the rising popularity and uptake of 3G across India.


In addition, premium tariff reductions in 3G services in early 2013 led to an increased migration of high end 2G customers to 3G.


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has divided the market into 23 service areas referred to as “circles” (roughly in line with the country’s 28 states). The circles are further divided into four categories: “metro” circles covering four major cities, “Category A” circles for regions with other large cities, “Category B” circles covering regions with smaller towns, and “Category C” circles for rural areas.


Analysis by circles shows that category A is the highest contributor of 3G in India, driving half of all mobile data in the country. 3G mobile data consumption grew by a record of 185 per cent in 2013, a remarkable increase considering that these circles had registered the highest 3G payload the year before. In category B, 3G data payload surpassed that of metros with 3G now accounting for 31 per cent of the total traffic. Both categories indicate a big demand of high- speed services, giving operators a huge opportunity to offer superior connectivity to their customers.


However, further research in ‘Top 50’ cities in all category circles reveals that 3G coverage in India is still limited and requires focused investments to achieve the data performance users demand. In category A for instance, the analysis of the leading 50 cities where 3G has been launched shows that additional 10 per cent to 15 per cent 3G sites are needed to match the existing 2G coverage. In category B there is a gap of 15 per cent to 20 per cent sites. Moreover, there are still some cities among the top 50 where 3G has not yet been launched. On average, 20- 25 per cent additional sites are needed to cover the cities that are not yet covered in category A and B.


“India is recording mobile broadband data growth figures higher than most other markets,” said NSN India Head Sandeep Girotra. “With the recent spectrum auctions paving the way for acceleration of mobile broadband penetration in the country, there is great opportunity for India to create a world-class infrastructure and improve the lives of millions of Indians. This can be achieved through a wider 3G rollout as well as through selected introduction of LTE technologies and the modernization of existing GSM networks.” 

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