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Indians spend highest time on smartphones

Average time spent by Indians on smartphones is the highest in the world and the duration for watching short videos is likely to rise 4-fold by 2025, telecom gear maker firm Nokia said in a report on Thursday.

The annual report – Mobile Broadband India Traffic Index, (Mbit) 2021 – found that India ranked second in the world in terms of broadband usage on mobile phones after Finland, and the data traffic in the country has increased around 60 times over the last five years, which is also highest globally.

“In the last five years, we have grown 63 times in terms of data growth that has happened. It is phenomenal. It is a record. I don’t think any country, any region, any market can beat this record of how data have been consumed in the last five years,” Nokia chief marketing officer Amit Marwah said while sharing details of the report.

According to the report, 164 petabytes of data was consumed in December 2015, which reached close to 10,000 petabytes in December 2020 on mobile networks.

The average consumption of data per user per month also increased by 76 per cent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) over the last five years to 13.5 GB (gigabyte) on 3G and 4G network combined. Average data consumed on 4G network are 13.7 GB per user per month.

“An average user in India has increased his consumption on smartphones by 4 times in the last year. An average person consumes close to 5 hours per day; it is 4.48 hours per day, on their devices. Even from today, we will grow 4 times more in terms of more content getting used,” Marwah said.

Almost 55 per cent of this consumption is now spearheaded by short content, available on channels like YouTube, social media, and other OTT apps. The rest of the 45 per cent are getting consumed on different kinds of content like fintech, e-commerce and other kinds of browsing activities.
The consumption pattern on smartphones is driven by the enablement of short videos, penetration of high-end devices and attention of millennials over short content.

Marwah said the need for fixed broadband connections in the country increased in 2020 due to work from home.

Fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and fixed wireless are going to see huge growth in years to come. In December 2014, there were 690 thousand homes connected with FTTH which grew over 5-fold to 4 million in December 2020, the report said.

Nokia Mbit report projects fibre-based broadband connections to increase from less than 15 per cent of total fixed broadband connections in 2019 to almost 48 per cent by 2025.

There were just 22 million fixed broadband (FBB) subscribers in 2020, and the revenue of the segment is expected to increase 1.5 times by 2025.

The time spent on education apps increased 30 per cent, and OTT traffic rose 265 per cent in April 2020 since February 2020.

Marwah said the data growth scenario makes ground for starting 5G services in India now.

According to the report, the 700 megahertz (MHz) spectrum band is suitable for 5G coverage, but the data speed will be inferior.

Marwah said that the spectrum’s quantum would be minimal in 700 Mhz, which is most expensive than other bands; therefore, data speed will be very low.

Nokia report suggests telecom operators should have 100 Mhz of spectrum in 3.4 to 3.8 GHz frequency range for good coverage and data speed. The top speed expected on a 5G network is 1 gigabit per second.

The Department of Telecom has informed a Parliamentary panel that it expects to hold another round of auction in 2021 after which 5G services can be rolled out.

According to the report, about 2 million 5G devices were active in the country, while 150 million 4G capable devices were shipped in India in 2020.

“Around 100 million subscribers having LTE (4G) capable devices are still on 2G and 3G services. 4G capable device penetration reached 77 per cent at a pan-India level in 2020,” the report said.

Nokia chief technology officer Randeep Raina said 2G is not going to be shut anytime soon because there are 300 million feature phones that are running on the network.

“We will see some of the spectrum getting refarmed for LTE (4G). As the ecosystem for mobile devices gets better, we will see a lot of spectrum getting refarmed for 4G or 5G,” Raina said. PTI

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