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3G Usage Jumps 146% In 2013, Accounts For 43% Total Network Traffic

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Although India arrived late on 3G bandwagon, it’s growth has been tremendous over past 12 to 18 months. A annual report on mobile broadband performance – MBit Index study – conducted by Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) reveals that, in 2013, 3G mobile data consumption grew by a record 146%.

In 2013, India witnessed a growth of 87 percent in total mobile traffic (2G+3G) with 3G data usage being 3 times more than 2G. While 3G traffic grew by 146%, 2G traffic growth remained stable at 59% over the same period.

Mobile Data Consumption 2013

The NSN’s MBit Index also showed that 3G users are increasingly consuming more data than 2G users. In December 2013, a 3G user consumed 532 Mb of data on average compared to 146
Mb consumption over 2G. The same average nearly doubles to 1GB usage in some of the major urban areas and metros.

The study indicates that the rise of 3G usage is primarily due to 3G Tariffs coming down in early part of 2013. Category A circles (large cities other than metros) drove nearly half of all mobile data in the country. In these circles, 3G data consumption grew the maximum at 185%, a remarkable feat considering that these circles had registered the highest 3G usage the year before as well.

Interestingly, Category B circles accounted for 31 percent of all mobile data traffic surpassing the usage in the Metro circles.

Sandeep Girotra, head of India region at NSN said, “India is recording mobile broadband data growth figures higher than most other markets. With the recent spectrum auctions paving the way for acceleration of mobile broadband penetration in the country, there is a great opportunity for India to create a world-class infrastructure and improve the lives of millions of Indians. This can be achieved through a wider 3G rollout as well as through selected introduction of LTE technologies and the modernization of existing GSM networks.”

Our View

While 2013 was a great year for growth of 3G consumption, 2014 promises to be an even better year given the fact that most telecom operators are expected to bring down 3G tariffs further.

Recently, Airtel bought down their rates by as much as 45 percent making it easier for masses to join the 3G bandwagon and other operators are expected to follow suit as well. Growth in 3G is also growing in part due to higher rich content consumption on smartphones.

On the other hand, we think that most of the existing 2G users will migrate to 3G given that tariff difference between both will be miniscule if any!

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