India carries the world’s most internet data traffic

03 April 2018 | Natalie Bannerman


India’s data usage grew five times over the last year, with its networks carrying an average of 2.1 exabytes of data per month.

According to the Times of India this data amount puts India way ahead of the likes of North America, European Union, Latin America, China, Eastern Europe and the Middle East & Africa.

Much of this increased data usage has been down to the entrance of Reliance Jio which launched its 4G services in September 2016. Jio launched with an offer of free voice calls and data at 50 rupees ($0.75) a gigabyte. In response, Indian market leader Airtel now offers subscribers 10GB a month on 3G and 4G networks for 399 rupees ($6.25). As a result data consumption has risen and prices have fallen by more than half.

“The key tussle between the top-three telecom operators has been for high ARPU (average revenue per user) data-using subscribers. This has resulted in data cost falling from Rs 12 per Gb to Rs 5 per Gb currently. This 60% cut in data prices has driven a sharp increase in volumes. Total data carried per month by the top four operators has increased five times over the past 12 months. We believe that this fight for data subscribers will continue and data prices may actually bottom out at a lower pricing,” said Piyush Nahar, equity analyst at Jefferies.

Conversely Airtel says that this data boom is due to the growing consumption of social media music, videos etc. on smartphones. The telco saw the total data traffic on its mobile network grow by more than 550% to over 1Eb during quarter ended Dec 2017. In addition, the figures show that the average Indian is consuming four times more data than in the previous year.

“The increasing penetration of high-speed 4G networks along with affordable smartphones and budget friendly data packs with large bundles of GBs is leading to a massive boom in data consumption in India. In fact, video is now touted as the new language of internet and is experiencing the highest growth,” said an Airtel spokesperson.

At the start of the year Reliance Communications sold its spectrum, towers and other consumer telecoms assets to Reliance Jio $3.77 billion in an attempt to cut its debt, and officially marking Reliance Communications bow out of the mobile market.