Driven by continued 4G consumption, the overall data traffic in India rose by 47 per cent in 2019, while 3G data traffic recorded its highest-ever decline of 30 per cent, according to a study by Nokia.


According to the study, Nokia’s annual Mobile Broadband India Traffic Index (MBiT), 4G constituted 96 per cent of the total data traffic consumed across the country.


The average monthly data usage per user surpassed 11 GB in December, growing 16 per cent annually due to increase in upgradation of the 4G network, low data prices, affordable smartphones, and the ever-increasing popularity of videos.


The number of 4G handset devices grew 1.5 times to reach 501 million units due to the availability of a range of feature-rich models at competitive prices, it added.


A growing number of smartphone users, coupled with one of the cheapest mobile data tariffs in the world and growth in rural internet penetration, have led to the growing popularity of videos in the country.


The video consumption was fuelled by the increasing number of OTT platforms with over 30 platforms in India currently, easy availability of regional content, aggressive distribution strategy, and innovations like sachet pricing and mobile-only packs by OTT players. The average time spent on OTT platforms in India is 70 minutes per day, it 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 promise to enhance productivity and bring down expenses for industries across different verticals, demand ultra high speed and extremely low latency. The Indian telcos will need to consider other connectivity solutions to leverage the new opportunities and to address the growing data consumption,” Sanjay Malik, Senior Vice President & Head of India Market at Nokia said.


According to the study, India data traffic recorded a growth of 44 times in the last four years (2015-19), which is one of the highest in the world. The number of Voice over LTE (VoLTE) smartphones grew to 43.2 crore, while broadband penetration is at 47 per cent, significantly lower than China’s 95 per cent and other European nations at 95-115 per cent.