Mobile Internet in India - September 2015

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This report contains over 100 visualizations and analysis spread across 151 pages, along with sharp analysis of how rapidly Mobile Internet in India is growing.

The visualizations are based on:
- Telecom operator data covering a period of over 2 years, mostly till September 2015
- Data available from industry disclosures and reports, made publicly.

20 of the many things we've learned from this report.

1. Mobile data consumption registered an annual increase of 65% and 10% for the quarter ending September 2015 with the top four telecom operators reporting total data usage of 1223.50 billion MB in the last four quarters.

2. Data connections accounted for 28% of the total mobile connections for the top four telecom operators in India during September 2015.

3. 3G connections accounted for 41% of the total mobile internet user base for the top four telecom operators for the three-month period ending September 2014, up from 29% a year before. In absolute terms, the top four telecom operators have a total of 86.38 million 3G connections and 109.67 million 2G connections.

4. For the quarter ending September 2015, the top four telecom operators added a total of 8.36 million 3G connections and lost 1.14 million 2G connections.

5. The quantum of data consumed on mobile grew by 127.54% while the number of mobile internet users grew by 40.40% from March 2014 to September 2015, suggesting that people are now consuming more data on mobile.

6. Airtel has the second-highest number of mobile Internet connections after Vodafone with 51.01 million connections. That's mainly because it doesn't count incidental mobile internet users (those who use less than 1MB a month) unlike Vodafone, which has 66.50 million data connections.

7. Vodafone has the highest proportion of subscribers with a data connection with 35.3% followed by Reliance Communications with 33.3% and Idea Cellular that had 24.8% mobile internet users in September 2015.

8. Worryingly for Vodafone, bulk of its mobile internet users are using 2G. The operator has 64% of data users on a 2G connection — highest among the top four operators.

9. Reliance Communications has the lowest 3G connections with 19.1 million. Idea Cellular is slightly ahead with 19.59 million while Vodafone has the highest number of 3G connections with 23.8 million.

10. Idea Cellular added 2.9 million 3G connections for the quarter ending September 2015 — highest among the top four telecom operators. Airtel holds the second spot with 2.54 million additions followed by Vodafone with 1.7 million connections and Reliance with 1.2 million.

11. Idea Cellular now handles more 3G data than 2G. 3G data volume is up by 117.6% on a yearly basis and 19.5% on a quarterly basis. 2G data volume increased by 47.4% year-on-year and 8.7% quarter-on-quarter.

12. Idea Cellular also holds the distinction of adding the highest number of 2G connections for the quarter ending September 2015 with 1.3 million. Reliance Communications added 0.6 million connections while Airtel and Vodafone lost 1 million and 2 million connections respectively.

13. Growth in 3G connections outpaced 2G over the last four quarters for Idea Cellular with 87% of the 10.4 million mobile internet users added to the network subscribing to 3G. Still, the operator has the lowest data volume among the top four telecom operators with 72 billion MB. To make matters worse,  75% of its subscribers are still not using mobile internet.

14. With a high number of data card (dongle) users, Reliance Communications has the highest data usage per data customer at 894 MB, a minor climb down from 895 MB for the quarter ending June.

15. Reliance Communications is the only telecom operator that has more 3G subscribers than 2G with 51% of its data subscribers on a 3G connection.

16. Airtel's data ARPU per data customer went up by 29% between September 2014 and September 2015 to Rs 193, mainly because more users are shifting to 3G from 2G and the operator is charging higher prices for its data plans. However, average revenue per MB has declined steadily since December 2014.

17. Revenues from data has grown 3.98 times that from VAS for Airtel. During the three months ending September 2015, data revenues stood at Rs 2888.53 crore while VAS revenues were just Rs 725.49 crore.

18. Data consumption on Reliance Communication's network has grown 47.9% for the year ending September 2015 and 4.9% on a quarterly basis.

19. Data consumption on Airtel's network stood at 115 billion MB in September 2015, well ahead of Reliance Communications (97.3 billion MB), Vodafone (75.1 billion MB) and Idea Cellular (72 billion MB).

20. Number of data connections declined from 10.36 million in June 2015 to 8.99 million in September 2015 for Uninor. At the same time, the telecom operator saw its non-data connection base increase by 2.38 million to 31.87 in September 2015.