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Nokia study shows multimedia and expanding device ecosystem will fuel mobile data traffic growth as India moves towards 4G LTE

  • 85% year-on-year 3G traffic growth in 2015 following 3G expansion and device availability
  • Monthly 3G data usage per user passed 750 MB, traffic outpaced 2G for first time across all circles[1]
  • 4G LTE device ecosystem grew over eight-fold in 2015, setting stage for further data traffic growth in 2016
  • Potential for operators to offer DC-HSPA as short-term substitute for 4G LTE

March 08, 2016

New Delhi/Gurgaon, India: The MBiT Index study*, Nokia's annual report on mobile broadband performance in India, has revealed exponential growth of 3G data traffic across the country in 2015. It also indicates how a growing device ecosystem and increased adoption of multimedia services will boost traffic further as 4G LTE networks are rolled out across the country.

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According to the study, overall mobile data traffic grew by 50% in 2015, with 3G traffic outpacing 2G across all circles for the first time. This was the result of a mature network, device and content ecosystem. 3G device penetration more than doubled during the year while new network launches and expansions in existing circles boosted data adoption beyond larger towns and cities.

Subscriber appetite is growing for multimedia services, with video and social networking now making up 60% of data traffic. Average monthly data usage for 3G surpassed 750 MB per subscriber and, with operators poised to launch 4G LTE networks, faster data speeds will fuel an even greater surge in traffic - echoing 4G LTE launches in other parts of the world where operators have traditionally seen data usage increase by up to four times.

Sandeep Girotra, Vice President and Head of India Market, Nokia said: "Aggressive 3G network expansion in existing circles and new launches by operators have been instrumental in increasing data traffic in India. It is expected that this data traffic growth will be boosted in coming years by the auction of additional spectrum, an increase in smartphone penetration and the development of the content ecosystem. Moreover, the rapid evolution of the device ecosystem, supported by a decline in prices, presents significant growth opportunities for operators as they launch and expand 4G LTE networks in coming years."

Key trends expected for operators in 2016:

  • 2G still has the potential to drive internet adoption in Category B and C circles in the short to medium term.
  • With evolving device support for 3G carrier aggregation, operators could potentially offer DC-HSPA as a substitute for 4G LTE in some circles in the short term.
  • 4G LTE device ecosystem will continue to grow with decline in device prices, thus giving operators the opportunity to monetize quickly as they launch 4G LTE networks.**

*About the Nokia MBiT Index
Nokia's MBiT Index, a report on mobile broadband performance in India, provides insights about mobile broadband traffic growth in the country and correlates trends with changes in various ecosystem drivers such as devices and subscriber usage patterns.

The fifth edition of the Nokia MBiT Index study evaluates 2G, 3G and overall data traffic growth trends at a pan-India and circle category level, and data consumption per user on 2G and 3G for 2015. It highlights the development of the device ecosystem during 2015 as well as users' data usage patterns in terms of type of content being consumed along with the associated drivers.

MBiT Index is based on Nokia's analysis of data obtained from various sources, including input and analysis done by Analysys Mason. It analyzes mobile broadband traffic trends only at a consolidated level and does not intend to provide any comparative analysis of data growth of different operators.

**4G is expected to have pan India presence in 2016 with new and incumbent operators providing 4G LTE coverage in all critical markets.

About Nokia
Nokia is a global leader in the technologies that connect people and things. Powered by the innovation of Bell Labs and Nokia Technologies, the company is at the forefront of creating and licensing the technologies that are increasingly at the heart of our connected lives. 

With state-of-the-art software, hardware and services for any type of network, Nokia is uniquely positioned to help communication service providers, governments, and large enterprises deliver on the promise of 5G, the Cloud and the Internet of Things. http://nokia.com

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[1] The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has divided the market into 23 service areas referred to as "circles" (roughly in line with the country's 28 states). The circles are divided into four categories: metro circles covering four major cities, Category A circles for regions with other large cities, Category B circles covering regions with smaller towns, and Category C circles for rural areas.

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