India mobile data consumption climbs

Country sees a 92 percent increase in mobile data traffic last year, driven by both 2G and 3G services, reveals MBit Index study.

Mobile data traffic in India is growing at a fast pace. According to Nokia Siemens Networks' MBit Index study, mobile data traffic generated by 3G services increased by 196 percent between December 2011 and December 2012, while mobile data traffic generated by 2G services increased by 66 percent over the same period.

Each 3G user on average currently consumes close to 300 percent more data than a 2G user, chalking up 434MB per month while a 2G user clocks 115MB per month. MBit Index study is based on Nokia Siemens' internal analysis of aggregated data from multiple sources in India. 

"The fact that data consumption by 3G users has tripled in one year clearly shows the rapid and steady increase in mobile data consumption in India," Sandeep Girotra, the vendor's head of India region, said in the statement. "This translates into the need for high-quality mobile broadband services with improved speed and service quality to satisfy mobile broadband users."

In the first half of the research period, data traffic generated by 3G services increased by 78 percent while 2G services increased by 47 percent. In the second half, data traffic generated by 3G services grew 54 percent while 2G services increased by 18 percent on a larger base.

"Hence, the growth rate of 3G data in the second half of 2012 was almost triple that of the growth rate of 2G," according to a statement released by Nokia Siemens Networks. "In the second half, 2G data growth stabilized due to high-end 2G users migrating to 3G services."

Reduction in 3G tariff by operators in mid-2012 led to the significant growth in 3G data consumption across the country, with category A circles seeing the maximum impact. "3G services generated one-third of the total mobile data in the country in the second half of the year, up from one-fourth in the first half," it said.

Data over smartphones

The study further revealed that in category A circles , there is a strong tendency to access mobile data using smartphones. Some 45 percent of total data consumed in A circles was accessed by smartphone users, but half of the users here still access mobile data on 2G networks.

"This provides operators a huge opportunity to encourage 2G users to go for much faster 3G services," the report added. "It also underscores the need for operators to make 2G/GSM networks more smartphone-friendly in order to ensure better customer experience."

The report further revealed that data currently accessed by smartphones using 3G services in category B and C circles were much lower than the national average, with category B circles recording 75 percent of mobile data consumption using only 2G services.

The trends in various circles highlight the need for a special focus on enhancing 3G network coverage in A, B, and C circles across the country. Girotra said: "Constantly improving the quality of data services and fulfilling growing expectations of mobile broadband customers will be a win-win for both operators and data customers."