Though 4G coverage is yet to penetrate across all circles, it contributed to 13 percent of the total data traffic pan-India in a span of year since launch. In metros alone, where the majority of 4G deployments have taken place, the contribution of 4G to data traffic was 26 percent. 3G continued with its growth trend contributing to 63 percent of total data payload.
According to the study, 4G monthly data usage per subscriber was over 1400 MB compared to nearly 850 MB per subscriber for 3G, primarily driven by faster download speeds over 4G networks and larger screen with higher resolution of 4G devices that accelerated data consumption. 4G enabled device ecosystem also grew tremendously supported by affordable devices, resulting in 2.7 times growth in a year. Together, 4G and 3G contributed to 76 percent of the data traffic across India. The report also noted that 2G saw a drop in volumes by 13 percent but remains the main carrier for voice telephony.
Data consumption amongst subscribers was largely driven by social media and messaging applications which were the anchor platforms that engaged users for the maximum time with nearly 90 percent of the users accessing it through their mobile devices. Video content remained the main growth engine for data traffic contributing upto 65 percent of total mobile data traffic.
According to the study, as 4G and 3G technology usage further increases, service providers will need to improve capacity through:
• Site connectivity to fiber and use of optical fiber backhaul as an efficient and higher capacity data transfer solution
• Technology evolution to 4.5G and 4.5G Pro
• Innovative technologies such as small cells to enhance capacity and provide better in-building access
“India is on the cusp of a formidable growth in mobile broadband technologies. Network expansion of 4G and 3G and a corresponding drop in prices of devices is fueling the growth of mobile broadband in the country,” said Sanjay Malik, Head of India Market, Nokia. “Indian operators will need to explore technologies, such as carrier aggregation, small cells, sectorization, and fiberization, to enhance overall efficiency and increase capacity to meet the growing demands.”
“Nokia continues to be at the forefront of technology innovation, and we are excited to partner with Indian operators as they embark on a journey to offer superior mobile broadband coverage and experience to their subscribers,” he added.
Other key trends expected in 2017:
• 4G will drive broadband uptake in India as the usage picks up momentum beyond the Metros.
• As 4G and 3G networks expand in rural areas, the significance and usage of regional and vernacular content is expected to increase
• Technologies such as Internet-of-things (IoT) and the development of Smart Cities will further increase data usage.