India has the lowest cost of data and voice calls now in the world, said acting Finance Minister Piyush Goyal during his interim Budget 2019, presented in Parliament on Friday. Goyal said India was leading the world in mobile data consumption and that the consumption of mobile data has risen by 50 times.
The growth of mobile data consumption in India has been observed since 2016, after the entry of Reliance Jio into the market, which has unleashed a data/tariff war of sorts with its rivals. Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Idea and others have started bundling daily data of more than 1GB along with unlimited voice calls in prepaid plans under Rs 200 in some cases, while some plans above Rs 400 offer longer validity of 84 days. This has helped boost data consumption in India.
This also explains why prices of calls and data have dropped significantly. While the minister did not give details on the mobile data consumption in India, studies have shown that it continues to increase.
In 2018, a study by Nokia MbIT had showed that on average by December 2017, Indians were consuming an average of 11GB of 4G broadband data per month on their mobiles. Out of this data consumption, videos are driving growth with more and more users consuming their daily mobile data on this format.
Back in August 2018, Reliance Jio had revealed that users of the company’s smart feature phone, the JioPhone, were averaging over 7GB of data on an average per month. On average, Jio’s monthly data usage stands at 10GB across its subscriber base, according to the company.
Recently a CISCO study at the end of December 2018 claimed that by 2022, India will have 829 million smartphone users in India, which will be nearly 60 per cent of the country’s population and that this will increase India’s per day data consumption by nearly 5X.
The Minister also highlighted that India now has 268 mobile part manufacturing companies, an increase from two. He also touched on the importance of introducing electric-vehicles, which will be a clean source of energy production. “We want to lead the world in use of renewable sources and also cut oil imports,” said the Minister.
On the growth of digital economy in rural areas, the government plans to create one lakh digital villages in the next five years.