Powered by 4G, mobile data consumption in India rose 56-fold in four years

Data hungry.
Data hungry.
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The penetration of 4G technology is fuelling a boom in mobile data consumption in India.

With an 86.85% share in 2018, 4G is the most popular wireless data technology in the country, according to a report published by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) yesterday (Aug. 21).

The share of 2G, 3G, and code division multiple access (CDMA) in wireless data usage stood at 0.95%, 12.18%, and 0.01%, respectively, according to the telecom regulator.

4G technology has, in a short span, contributed to a 56-fold increase in overall mobile data consumption in India, between 2014 and 2018.

Annual data usage per subscriber also increased from 0.27 GB to 7.6 GB, said the report.

“With the entry of new telecom service providers using 4G technology and also the consequent gradual adaptation of this technology by leading incumbents, data usage in the last few years has grown sharply in the country,” said Trai.

Userbase grows

Since the introduction of 4G in 2016, data costs have also steadily fallen. The average cost of wireless data per subscriber was Rs226 ($3.15) per GB in 2015, noted Trai, which fell to Rs19.35  in 2017, and further to Rs11.78 last year.

Upgrade of mobile networks from 2G to 4G in large parts of the country has also been helpful, the Trai report said. Then there’s the availability of relatively affordable smartphones.

The total number of wireless data subscribers in India grew at 36.36% per year between 2014 and 2018.


With the growth in mobile data usage, telecom service providers have also seen a growth in revenues from wireless subscriptions, from Rs38,882 crore in 2017 to Rs54,671.44 crore last year.

Among India’s various telecom circles, Uttar Pradesh (West) witnessed the highest consumption of wireless data usage at 8.3 GB per subscriber in 2018, followed by Punjab and Bihar at 8.1 GB each.