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Bengaluru, NFAPost: Nokia has launched its 8th edition of the Mobile Broadband India Traffic Index (MBiT)* 2021 report today, which evaluates mobile broadband performance in India for the year 2020. As per the report, the data traffic in India grew approximately 60 times in the last five years to record the highest growth globally.

India’s Data Traffic Growth in 2020

In 2020, the data traffic grew by 36% YoY primarily due to a rise in 4G data consumption as 4G subscribers surpassed 700 million with 100 million new additions during the year. 4G alone constituted nearly 99% of the total data traffic consumed across the country. Categories A, B and C saw higher growth rates than metros due to operator focus on 4G.

The study adds that the average monthly data usage per user reached 13.5 GB in December 2020, growing over 20% annually owing to an increase in data subscribers and mobile video consumption. New users from rural areas also contributed to the rising monthly data usage.

Data Traffic Growth and Forecast with 4G Penetration in India

Mobile emerged as the primary source of entertainment and productivity as an average Indian spent approximately 5 hours daily on a smartphone which is one of the highest averages globally. The short video format was the fastest-growing content category. With surging internet users, total time spent monthly on short content is expected to grow four times by 2025.

As per the device trends, the report reveals that the 4G device base surpassed 607 million units reaching a 77% penetration level. VoLTE devices constituted 93% of the total LTE handsets.

India’s Data Traffic Growth Forecast with the Advent of 5G

With 2 million active 5G devices registered across the country, double-digit growth is expected in 2021 for the smartphone industry as people embrace hybrid work models, e-learning, and consume content over OTT platforms. The launch of low-cost 4G smartphones will provide the stimulus for data growth with a significant number of 2G/3G subscribers potentially upgrading to a 4G smartphone.

The 2021 MBiT report also explores the potential of fixed broadband. With only 22 million fixed broadband subscribers, there is a significant growth opportunity for this segment. As India prepares to launch 5G amidst COVID-19, fixed broadband accessibility through Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and FTTx will help generate a new revenue stream for operators.

Sanjay Malik, Senior Vice President & Head of India Market, Nokia, said: “5G has a huge potential for value creation in India as the pace of digitization is accelerating. The phenomenal growth in data consumption in India will drive demand for enhanced broadband and fixed capacity. Industry 4.0 with various IoT and enterprise use-cases, immersive applications experience (AR/VR), smart home, factory and public safety use cases will spur LTE, 5G growth and data usage further.”

Other Key Findings of the Nokia MBiT Study:

  • Overall average data usage per month registered a CAGR of 76% from 2015-2020.
  • 4G capable device penetration reached 77% at a pan-India level in 2020 as the number of Voice over LTE (VoLTE) smartphones grew to 563 million.
  • About 100 million subscribers having LTE capable devices are still on 2G/3G services.
  • Despite no 5G, India’s mobile broadband penetration stands at approximately 63% (2020f). However, the fixed broadband penetration stands only at 7.5% (2020f) of households.
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