The entry of Reliance Jio changed the entire 4G market in India. Back at the business end of 2016, Reliance Jio announced commercial services, and 2017 was the year 4G exploded in India. Being one of the fastest growing mobile markets in the world, India’s current mobile data subscriber penetration now stands at 40%, and it is expected to double to 80% by 2022, as per Crisil’s predictions.
In India, lower generation wireless technologies still occupy a fair share of the mobile data space, but LTE services have taken the leading role in the unprecedented increase of data users in the past year, in large part thanks to Reliance Jio and its free LTE services.
The emergence of 4G brought with it free voice calls and low-cost data plans leading to a big boost in data usage. As more consumers received access to 4G connections, a new wealth of applications requiring fast speeds opened up to them, further driving up data consumption said Andrea Toth, an author of OpenSignal in a blog post.
If you look at the stats, during the quarter ended June 2017, total data usage stood at over 4.2 million terabytes, out of which 4G data accounted for 3.9 million TBs, according to the telecom regulator Trai. The growth is most visible when checking the numbers from a year ago when 4G data usage stood at a mere 8,050 TBs; that’s a 500-fold increase.
OpenSignal has come up with their review on how Indian consumers will experience 4G in 2018. According to OpenSignal, Reliance Jio may increase its tariff prices in 2018, like it did in 2017. And this move from the new entrant will even give some relief to incumbent telecom operators.
However, it says that 4G will drive more consumers next year as well. "Jio’s market entry kicked off an intense price war in the telecom scene resulting in offerings of cheaper LTE services from all operators, driving more consumers to 4G than ever before, a trend we expect will continue next year," said OpenSignal.
However, Jio may not be the huge dominant driver in 4G growth in 2018. "After a year of free and steeply discounted data pricing, Jio may make 2018 the year it raises prices. That could level the playing field for India’s operators," it said.
In addition, the expected consolidation of the telecom market will likely lead to several operators combining their spectrum holdings, which could provide India with the necessary boost in speed. These more powerful combined networks would provide more capacity as well as support more sophisticated LTE-Advanced technology, increasing average speeds available to consumers said OpenSignal in the report.
Lastly, the report added that 2018 would see India gradually move away from being a developing 4G country; overcoming the hiccups necessary to become a full-grown 4G power.