Cheap data plans, affordable handsets, increasing popularity of video services and 4G networks have helped average data consumption per user in India to grow to over 11 GB a month, telecom gear maker Nokia said on Thursday.
Nokia - in its annual Mobile Broadband India Traffic Index (MBiT) report - said the overall data traffic in India increased by 47 percent in 2019, driven by continued 4G consumption.
4G data constitute 96 percent of the total data traffic consumed across the country, while 3G data traffic registered its highest ever decline of 30 percent, it added.
"The average monthly data usage per user surpassed 11 gigabyte (GB) in December growing 16 percent annually due to increase in upgradation of 4G network, low data prices, affordable smartphones, and the ever-increasing popularity of videos," Nokia India Chief Marketing Officer Amit Marwah told reporters here.
He added that data consumption in India is probably the highest globally, ahead of markets like China, the US, France, South Korea, Japan, Germany and Spain.
One GB data usually allows users to stream about 200 songs or watch an hour of video. The amount of data consumed goes up depending on the quality of the content being streamed (standard-definition (SD), high-definition (HD) or Ultra HD).
Interestingly, broadband penetration in India is at 47 percent, which is significantly lower than China (95 percent) and other European nations at around 95-115 percent.
Marwah said mobile data usage in India can increase further as broadband penetration approaches the level of similar developed geographies.
Data prices in India are among the lowest in the world at about Rs 7 per GB, the report said.
The number of 4G data users in the country is estimated to be 598 million, while that of 3G were at about 44 million.
Video consumption in the country has been on the rise with spurt in number of over-the-top (OTT) platforms (like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other regional content platforms). Players are adopting aggressive distribution and pricing strategies, including sachet pricing and mobile-only packs.
The average time spent on OTT platforms in india is about 70 minutes a day and an average single session lasts for about 40 minutes, the report said.
"We believe the migration of subscribers to 4G will continue to drive broadband growth in the country. The upcoming 4K/8K videos and Industry 4.0 solutions that promises to enhance productivity and bring down expenses for the industries across different verticals, demand ultra high speed and extremely low latency," Marwah said.
He added that Indian telecom operators will need to consider other connectivity solutions to leverage the new opportunities and to address the growing data consumption.
The report noted that the number of 4G handsets devices grew by 1.5 times to reach 501 million units in 2019 from 330 million a year-ago. The number of Voice over LTE (VoLTE)-enabled smartphones grew to 432 million.
The report also pointed out that several innovative Industry 4.0 use cases will drive the uptake of 'Private LTE' in the country.
These use cases range from remote monitoring in manufacturing and mining, material handling through augmented reality in warehouses, logistics etc. This will advance digital transformation across different business verticals and will pave the way for 5G technology, the report said.
Nokia, which has deployed private wireless networks for more than 120 customers across multiple industries and geographies, has recently partnered with Airtel for offering Private LTE to enterprises in India.