Graphic shows mobile data costs in Asia.
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ASIA

India leads world in mobile data charges

By Duncan Mil

June 10, 2019 - India’s mobile-broadband subscriptions more than doubled from 218 million to 500 million between 2016 and 2018, driven by the world’s cheapest data costs and an insatiable appetite for digital services.

India has 560 million internet users, representing 40.9 per cent of its population, and is the world’s second-largest behind China with 560 million -- 58.4 per cent of its population -- using the internet. The U.S. trails in third place with 293 million, or 89 per cent of its citizens with online access.

India is undergoing a massive phase of internet growth, primarily driven by the improved mobile network infrastructure and cheap data costs -- the average price of one gigabit (1GB) of mobile data is US$0.26, compared with an average cost in the U.S. of $12.37, and in South Korea of $15.12.

While households in India tend to have a single television shared by a family, the mobile phone has become the second screen for millions of people to do “timepass” -- filling time on their hands.

A wide-ranging 2018 study by Boston Consulting Group, a research firm, predicts that India’s internet users will reach 650 million by the end of 2023.

While the price of an Apple iPhone 7 weighs in at a steep 38,570 rupees ($556), far too pricey for most pockets, Reliance Jio is marketing an app-capable phone without a touchscreen for just 1,500 rupees ($22). Jio is backed by the financial muscle of the Reliance group, India’s largest wireless broadband service provider, with more than 280 million subscribers.

Affordability and timepass have seen mobile consumption surge to 10.4GB per subscriber per month -- nearly three times as much mobile-phone data as Americans devour -- and around three-quarters of all mobile traffic in India is video streaming.

India users each spend an average of 200 minutes a day on mobile internet -- not yet up to the United States’ 300 minutes a day -- and could well lead the world in the next mobile revolution. Consumer demand exists, and the opportunity is real.

PUBLISHED: 10/06/2019; STORY: Graphic News
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