JIO IMPACT: India mobile data usage up 500%, price down 97% in 1 year

The average data consumed by wireless users in India has increased five fold in the last year one year, even as prices crashed by 97% due to the launch of Reliance Jio.

For India as a whole, the total consumption of wireless data touched 4.3 bln GB in the three months from April to June 2017, or about 1.44 bln GB per month.

Given that the total number of data subscribers in the quarter was around 400 mln, that gives an average usage of 3.5 GB per user per month, or about 120 MB per day.

In contrast, before Jio’s launch, the average consumption of data was about 600 MB per month, or about 20 MB per day. In other words, there has been a 500% increase in average data consumption since the new operator arrived on the scene.

The number also suggests that the incumbent operators continue to lag in spurring consumption.

Idea, for example, was providing about 2.2 GB per month per user against the all-India average of 3.5 GB per month, while Bharti Airtel was selling about 2.6 GB per head.

Jio users, on the other hand, are estimated to have been consuming about 6-7 GB per month on average during the same three months.

However, the per-head increase is only part of the story, there has also been an increase in the total number of data consumers — 24% to be exact.

Total number of data connections increased from 330 mln, or 33 cr as of June 31, 2016 to 409 mln (40.9 cr) as of June 31, 2017.


The jump in consumption was hardly surprising given the way the price of the commodity has moved.

The average price of wireless data fell from about Rs 200 per GB in Apr-Jun last year to Rs 6 per GB this year. For GSM, it was just Rs 5.81 per GB this year.

Industry commentary suggests that the consumption boom will continue.

On Thursday, Idea Cellular CEO Himanshu Kapania said the current appetite for data was at previously unimaginable levels, and that his company is bracing for a usage of 15 GB per user per month by next year.

India seems to be seeing a mobile data revolution analogous to the telephony revolution set off by the introduction of affordable voice services in the late 1990s.

The country has proven inhospitable to wired services due to the high cost of maintaining copper and fiber lines, which has kept back the growth of Internet in India.

However, with 4G technology providing a cheaper and effective alternative to wired technology, the country seems to be catching up on lost growth in a hurry.