High speed internet for Digital India

478 million mobile internet users in India by June 2018: IAMAI

Like food, garments, and shelter, the internet connectivity for e-governance and information has been the 21st century’s basic human need. Cut-throat competition between telcos like Jio, Airtel and Idea has benefitted mobile internet penetration at large. Some telcos going ahead announcing that India’s 99% villages will get 4G internet connectivity by Diwali 2018. This isn’t a mere announcement as Open Signal report suggests that India’s mobile internet penetration may be far ahead than the US and developed countries in Europe. Although India ranks amazingly good (much better than its competitors) at last-mile internet connectivity, but we still suffer from low and inconsistent speeds.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India and Kantar-IMRB report points that India may have 478 million mobile internet users by June 2018. According to the report, the number of mobile internet users increased by 17.22% from December 2016 to reach 456 million users by December 2017. Urban India witnessed an estimated 18.64% Y-o-Y rise, while Rural India witnessed an estimated growth of 15.03% during the same period. With 59% penetration, Urban India is expected to show a slowdown, while Rural India with only 18% mobile internet penetration is clearly the next area of growth.

Young students are the most prolific users of most services. Middle-aged and older men show the greater propensity of using social networking and browsing; with old men having lower habits of audio/video streaming. Working women have the highest propensity for social networking and browsing, while non-working women have the highest propensity for text chatting. The report further finds that Mobile Internet is predominantly used by youngsters, with 46% of Urban users and 57% of Rural users being under the age of 25. Urban India has around twice the proportion of users over the age of 45, while the age range of 25 to 44 has almost equal distribution of users in Urban and Rural Areas.

Data is the new oil.

Since the launch of Jio, the affordability aspect of mobile internet services has been benefitting consumers at large. 4G internet can be obtained at just Rs 5 per day if chosen for a three-month plan. Expenditure on Voice has been steadily decreasing from 2013; and with the popularity of VOIP and video chatting, the expenditure on voice services has decreased drastically in recent times. This in turn means that there is a rise in proportion of Data expenditure in comparison to Voice expenditures for most users. In just 5 years from 2013 to 2017, the ratio of Data:Voice went from 45:55 to 84:16.

Telecom companies now not just offer data. They have also ventured into video content, music streaming and online news portals. The latest example of business diversification is JioMusic, which merged into Saavn to create $1 billion dollar entity.

Going forward, NTP 2018 with focus on new technologies like 5G is expected to promote better quality data services at more affordable prices and can be expected to help address the digital divides and promote internet penetration in the rural areas via mobile internet.

– Chaitanya Kulkarni

Source – IAMAI

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