Saturday, 9 September 2017



As mobile technology has evolved over the past 2-3 decades, each generation of tech has helped mobility leapfrog and enabled a paradigm change in the way people and devices connect with each other. Today, that ‘how’ in connectivity is driven by ‘data and video’ as compared to just voice a few decades earlier. In India, data is increasingly generating far more traffic than voice calls and video streaming on smartphones has become the new frontier – be it watching live broadcasts, social media videos, and professional content.

Tremendous growth in data traffic
The past 8-12 months have seen unprecedented growth in the Indian telecom industry. Ericsson’s Mobility Report 2017 points out that during Q1 2017, India added over 43 million subscribers followed by China with over 24 million and Indonesia with over 10 million subscribers. Driven by fast-paced smartphone adoption, changing user behaviour, and disruptive pricing strategies of operators, data traffic per smartphone user in India will grow to 11 GB per month by 2022. The total mobile data traffic in India is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of around 40 per cent, reaching almost 8 exabytes (EB) of data per month compared to around 1 EB of data consumption by the end of 2016. Increased distribution and consumption of video and multimedia services, as well as the growth in mobile banking transactions and digital payments, are also fuelling the data traffic in the country. By 2022, 97 per cent of mobile data traffic will be smartphone traffic.
Changing user behaviour
Growing smartphone penetration and rapidly changing data consumption patterns have brought increased attention on network performance. Indian smartphone owners have devised their own mental indicators to measure and evaluate network performance. The top four indicators consumers use to judge network performance in India include:

1. Time taken to upload pictures on social media
2. Time taken to open a web page
3. Time taken for a video to buffer or load
4. Download time for email attachments
An Ericsson study found that 4G users are nearly 1.5 times more satisfied than 3G users in India and their usage behaviour is skewed towards data centric services. In fact, for 40 per cent of 4G users in India, video loading and video buffering while streaming is the main index by which they judge network performance. The pricing and go-to-market strategies used by telecom operators reflect this trend, as they shift from voice call tariffs to data-driven pricing.
This study, focused on smartphone users in India, interestingly reflects that mobile broadband experience is five times more effective in driving customer loyalty as compared with pricing and tariff structures. With new apps coming in everyday, data consumption patterns have become increasingly dynamic. From an operator’s point of view, they need to invest in network performance to ensure a seamless experience for their customers.
Technology shift for future growth
In 2018, at a global level, LTE (4G) will overtake GSM as the largest access technology by number of subscriptions. The speed with which this technology has been rolled out and adopted is unprecedented. It has taken only five years for LTE to cover 2.5 billion people, compared to eight years for 3G. In the first quarter of this year alone, 250 million new LTE subscriptions were added. Even in India, LTE and WCDMA/HSPA technologies are together expected to represent 85 per cent of all Indian subscriptions by 2022. As further 4G roll-outs hap

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