The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Monday has released its annual report for the financial year 2019-20 highlighting that India is now the global leader in monthly data consumption. According to the report, the average consumption per subscriber per month has increased from 62MB in 2014 to 9.06GB in 2019, representing a growth of 146 times. Further, it was said that the cost of data has seen an dramatic decrease which in turn has provided affordable internet access to millions of citizens. DoT said that the rise in data consumption has “created opportunities for the government” to reach out to everyone in the society and provide services that were not previously feasible. Crucially, DoT said that the government can unlock the next phase of growth for the Indian economy by “tapping into these opportunities.”
Indian Telecom Market Second Largest in the World
DoT also highlighted that the Indian telecom market is the second largest in the world in terms of telephone connections. The report highlighted that India has 1174.66 million telephone connections including 1154.39 million wireless telephone connections at the end of November 2019. DoT said that the overall tele-density in the country was at 88.81% with the urban tele-density at 156.82% while the rural tele-density was at 56.71%.
Himachal Pradesh at 148.81% followed by Kerala at 124.65% and Punjab at 124.24% were the states with highest tele-density. The states with low tele-density were Bihar at 59.27% followed by Uttar Pradesh at 66.10% and West Bengal at 68.53%.
With the government making its land and buildings available for installation of towers, around 15.5 lakh additional Base Tower Stations (BTS) were said to be added between March 2014 to December 2019. Additionally, 1.70 lakh towers were said to be added between December 2015 to December 2019.
Digital Payments and MTNL
DoT also highlighted other numerous initiatives that the sector has witnessed including the digital payments mission. The report said that the sector for the year 2019 to 2020 has achieved digital transactions for 163 crores till September 2019 against the target of 325 crores. Further, it was said that the department had asked the telecom providers and internet providers to provide additional benefits to digital payments by offering consumers cashbacks, extra talktime and extra data.
The report also focused on the state owned companies BSNL and MTNL and their expansion projects. It was said that the MTNL has expanded its networks in Delhi to meet the increasing data demand with the operator upgrading its network from the HSDPA 3G network to HSDPA+ capabilities. Theoretically, the HSDPA supports 3.6 Mbps download speed and 384 Kbps upload speed while the HSDPA+ network can support 21.1 Mbps download speed and 5.76 upload speeds. The core network’s data handling capacity of MTNL was also said to be upgraded to 10 Gbps from 400 Mbps.
MTNL was also said to have made efforts to improve its indoor coverage in Delhi with the operator taking multiple steps including upgrading its backhaul network from 16 Mbps to Hybrid Microwave of 400 Mbps. Similar steps were said to be taken by the operator in Mumbai.