Nokia reports 5G-led growth in data usage in India

Nokia reports 5G-led growth in data usage in India

Nokia has published the findings of its latest annual Indian market-focused Mobile Broadband Index (MBiT).

The Nokia MBiT 2024 report reveals that India’s 5G users are using approximately 3.6 times as much mobile data traffic compared to 4G since October 2022. In 2023, users consumed 17.4 exabytes per month with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26% over the past five years.

The launch of 5G, Nokia suggests, has emerged as a significant catalyst for the growth in data usage, contributing to 15% of all data traffic in 2023.

The report highlights what it calls a paradigm shift in the Indian mobile data landscape driven by the growing adoption of 5G technology.

Indeed, 5G traffic has shown substantial growth across all telecom circles (administrative areas, often equivalent to states), with metro circles (very dense population centres in some very large Indian cities) leading the charge and reaching a 20% share in overall mobile data traffic.

Enhanced 5G availability and performance, coupled with the availability of affordable devices, as well as the introduction of new data-intensive apps and services, will accelerate future 5G growth, the report says.

The average monthly data traffic per user surged by 24% year-on-year in 2023, reaching 24.1 gigabytes per user per month.

The report predicts that the rise of 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) will also serve as a key enabler for new services in both the home and business, with FWA users expected to consume an estimated 2.5 times more data than average 5G users.

In addition the 5G device ecosystem in India is rapidly evolving, with approximately 17% of active 4G devices, totalling 134 million out of 796 million, now being 5G-capable.

The Nokia MBiT 2024 report also suggests that the years leading up to 2030 will produce major shifts in technology, leading to new opportunities and a digitised and programmable world. The key technology themes shaping the world in 2030, it says, will include the Metaverse, AI/ML, the cloud, and Web 3.0 among others.

Is this good news for operators? In theory it favours Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, the only operators to have rolled out 5G in India. Vodafone Idea is gearing up for rollout and BSNL is a long way behind, with 4G rollout the immediate concern.

However, another important question is whether and how 5G technology is making money for operators. India’s Economic Times was not the only news outlet to report recent comments from Peter Jarich, Head of GSMA Intelligence, that telecom operators worldwide have not been able to monetise these newer networks despite investments to the tune of billions of dollars.

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