Indians consume maximum data per month as compared to the rest of the world at an average of 9.8GB per month which is set to double to 18 GB by 2024 fuelled by rich video content, as per a report by Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson.
"India has the highest average monthly usage, reaching 9.8 gigabytes (GB) by the end of 2018. Increased numbers of LTE subscriptions, attractive data plans being offered by service providers and young people's changing video viewing habits have driven monthly usage growth," Ericsson Mobility Report, June 2019 edition said.
The report anticipates the mobile data traffic per month to grow at a CAGR of 23% from 4.6 exabytes in 2018 to 16 exabytes in 2024. The smartphone user base in India will touch 1.1 billion by the year 2024, whilst the mobile subscriptions are foreseen to grow from about 610 million in 2018 to 1.25 billion in 2024.
"Streaming 360-degree video and augmented/virtual reality should start to be a significant factor in mobile traffic growth while enhancing user experience as 5G is rolled out, and compatible devices are successively introduced," the report stated.
"Improved device penetration, affordable data tariff plans, and increase in data-intensive content such as videos are driving this growth in India," Nitin Bansal, head of Ericsson India and head of network solutions, South East Asia, Oceania and India, said at the launch of The Ericsson Mobility Report on Wednesday.
Close on India's heels, North East Asia is at second spot with 7.1 GB per month. "Attractive data plans, as well as innovative mobile apps and content, have pushed up monthly mobile data usage, particularly in China," the report added.
Meanwhile, West Asia and Africa region which according to to the 2018 report had the lowest data consumption at 3 GB per month are expected to have the highest growth rate between 2018 and 2024, growing total mobile data traffic by eight times during the said period.
As more Indians spend time streaming videos on their smartphones, mobile data traffic is expected to account for 75% of overall mobile traffic by the year 2024.
What is noteworthy in the report is that it claims that Indian smartphone users are ready to pay more than 66% premium for futuristic 5G services. According to Bansal, the early technology adopters in India are willing to pay a premium of Rs 320 over their average monthly spends on 5G services. He further said that the findings of the report suggest that over 50% of the total smartphone users in the country expect their service provider to shift to 5G or will wait for six months maximum before switching to a provider that does.
The report also predicts the 5G coverage to reach 45% of the world's population by 2024 end while adding that its adoption is expected to be fastest in North America, with 63% of the mobile subscriptions in the region to be for 5G in 2024. This will be followed by North East Asia at second spot (47%), and Europe bagging the third place (40%).
Data consumption in India was fuelled by the disruptive entry of Reliance Jio in September 2016. The announcement made by Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) Chairman Mukesh Ambani sent other operators in a tizzy, subsequently lowering their tariffs to offer cheap data to consumers.
The findings by the report follow the government's announcement regarding the debut auction of fifth-generation (5G) spectrum this year along with trials within 100 days. The 5G auction will enable digital inclusion by bringing technology to rural people as well as address social causes, education and health etc.