India’s mobile penetration is only half of official numbers, mobile Internet at just 14.4 m: Juxt survey

India’s active mobile subscribers are only aorund half of the gross subscribers reported by the mobile operators, according to a survey by Juxt Consult, one of India’s pioneering mobile and Internet research agency.

According to Juxt Consult, India had only 48.7 crore (487 million) mobile subscribers in June this year, compared to the 85 crore claimed by Indian operators.

The number is just 57% of the total “subscriber base” operators claim and is even lower than the “active” subscribers claimed by the telecom regulator TRAI after studying data extracted from the network equipment (VLR).

According to VLR, 70% of the subscribers can be considered to be using their subscription as they are “switched on” on the last day of the month.

The Juxt study, conducted on over 2 lakh (200,000) individuals in 48,765 households, effectively demolishes the government’s argument that Indian mobile growth has reached the majority of citizens.

While the Government claims ‘wireless penetration’ in the range of 70%, Juxt claims only around 40.7 crore (407 million) Indians own a mobile connection — a penetration of around 34%.

The remainining 8 crore (80 million) connections (487-407) are accounted for by same subscriber owning more than one connection. 65 million subscribers own more than one connection and around 22 million (2.2) crore own dual-SIM phones. 91% of users carry only one phone at a time.

However, when measured in terms of access to a mobile phone (a phone in the house), the penetration is around 40% (up from 31% last year), Juxt said.

In all, there were around 44.6 crore “active handsets” in the country as of June. In other words, Indians added 9.1 crore (91 million) phones during the year.

Most survey firms had predicted that Indians bought around 180 million phones during the period — pointing to the possibility that nearly half of them were bought to replace and existing phones and 9.1 phones were actually added to the base.

For those drooling over the mobile Internet revolution, the Juxt study is disappointing as it reveals that only 14.4 million, or 3.5% of all mobile users, use their mobile phones for Internet surfing.

Many other estimates had held that out of the 100 million or so Internet users in India, 40 million log on from the their phones. Against the average growth rate of 37% for mobile connections, users of Internet on mobile grew just 25%.

Only 6% of the handsets support wireless data — 2G, EDGE, 3G etc. (much lower than traditional estimates.)

But that may well be true as cccording to Juxt, 82% of all mobile handsets in use were bought for less than Rs 3,000, according to their owners. The average handset buying price in rural areas was even just Rs 2,078, 15% lower than urban areas.

80% of the ‘most used handsets’ have games on them, 55% have FM and 18% have a camera. In what should come as welcome news for Nokia, 15% have set their local language as their default device language.

Almost 60% of all Indian households have only one mobile. But due to the fact that many urban households have 3 or even more connections, the average number of phones per household for all India is 2.05.

The daily average talk time on ‘most used connection’ is up marginally at 24.7 minutes (from 23.5 minutes last year). However, it is not good news for operators as the average monthly spend per connection went down from Rs 242 to Rs 215 due to lower tariffs.

The Juxt survey covered ‘towns’ and ‘villages’ of all population strata in all the mainland states and and UTs in India (covering all the key 80 of the total 88 regions in India as classified by NSSO).

“The selection of towns and villages was done to attempt a best possible but practical ‘geographical’ coverage of the Indian population. The sampling within the selected towns was done on ‘2-stage random’ basis (firstly a random selection of polling booths, and then a random selection of households from the electoral list within each of these randomly selected polling booths); within villages, sampling was done on ‘systematic random’ basis (selection of every nth house in the village),” Juxt said.


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