Led by growing popularity of video streaming in local languages on various over-the-top (OTT) applications, India witnessed overall mobile data traffic growth by 109 per cent in 2018, with 4G contributing a massive 92 per cent, Nokia's annual Mobile Broadband India Traffic (MBiT) Index said on Thursday.
The report on the mobile broadband performance in India revealed that average data usage grew by 69 per cent in 2018 to touch 10GB a user per month in December. Significant drop in data tariffs coupled with the availability of economical 4G devices led to the growth of the number of 4G subscribers by 137 per cent. The number of 4G data users now stands at 432 million.
"The surge in broadband consumption is likely to continue in the next few years since the current broadband penetration is just 45 per cent in the country," said Sanjay Malik, Head of India Market, Nokia. The growth will be fuelled by 4G network expansions as telcos enhance the coverage and provide better network experience to the end consumer.
"Going forward, the service providers will need to expand the 4G network and evolve their network infrastructure to support 5G in near future," Malik added. The widespread migration of users from 3G to 4G devices also contributed to the increase in the consumption of 4G data traffic in the country. Category B and C circles witnessed the highest increase in 4G traffic in 2018. Not surprisingly, the 4G growth has come at the cost of 3G data traffic, which has recorded a marginal decrease in 2018.
"By the end of 2018, there were more than five times as many 4G subscribers as there are 3G subscribers," the report said, adding that WhatsApp and Instagram are the leading social networking app among subscribers.
"The 4G network rollouts will continue this year and the service providers will start preparing the networks for 5G to gain early mover advantage," said Nokia report, adding that OTT players have gained significantly due to operator tie-ups and aggressive 4G network expansion, with high consumption on their platforms.