India Now Surpasses 500 Million Unique Mobile Subscribers
Now there are as many mobile subscriptions as there are people on the planet. India is on track to surpass half a billion mobile subscribers by the end of the year, according to a new GSMA study, signaling the start of a new era for the country’s mobile economy. The new report The Mobile Economy: India 2015 finds that 13% of the world’s mobile subscribers reside in India and that subscriber growth is forecast to cements India's position as the world’s second-largest mobile market behind China.
The market is now rapidly migrating to mobile broadband technology, which is providing a platform for India to transform into a digitally empowered society and connect many millions of unconnected citizens to the internet over the coming years.
India had 453 million unique mobile subscribers at the end of 2014. It is forecast to surpass 500 million by the end of this year and add a further 250 million subscribers by 2020 to reach 734 million, accounting for almost half of all the subscriber growth expected in the Asia Pacific region over this period. This strong growth is linked to India’s relatively low mobile subscriber penetration rate, which stood at 36% of the population at the end of 2014, compared to a 50% global average. The subscriber penetration rate in India is forecast to reach 54% by 2020 as many millions more are connected by mobile.
One factor driving the migration to mobile broadband networks is the increasing adoption of smartphones, which has been fuelled by a raft of low-cost smartphones increasingly via a homegrown smartphone manufacturing. More than half a billion new smartphones connections are expected in India between 2015 and 2020, bringing the total to 690 million, up from 149 million in 2014.
India’s mobile industry is also a key driver of economic growth and job creation. The industry made a total contribution of INR7.7 lakh crore (US$116 billion) to the Indian economy in 2014, equivalent to 6.1 per cent of India’s total GDP3 . This contribution is forecast to almost double by 2020 This industry is playing a key enabling role in the Digital India initiative, launched in July 2015, which aims to transform India into a digitally empowered society and provide broadband connectivity to all. Due to the relative lack of fixed-line infrastructure in the country, mobile is already the dominant platform for internet access. The number of individuals accessing the internet over mobile devices has grown from less than 100 million subscribers in 2010 to nearly 300 million at the end of 2014.
Mobile phone subscriptions are rising worldwide, with India registering most additions in Q3, 2015, according to Ericsson's Mobility Report. Smartphone subscriptions are growing even faster. Same for mobile broadband. The number of mobile broadband subscriptions is growing globally by around 25% year-on-year, increasing by approximately 160 million in Q3 2015 alone. This in turn is pushing up data traffic. Mobile data traffic is now forecast to grow 10-fold by the end of 2021, driven by rising consumption of video content on smartphones and tablets.
Mobile video in general is forecast to grow by around 55% annually through 2021, when it will account for around 70% of all mobile data traffic. Although audio - including radio - is much present on mobile broadband it will account for less than 10 percent of mobile data traffic 2021. Music streaming is gaining popularity, but functions such as content caching and offline playlists reduce the impact on traffic growth. Consumer preferences are shifting towards more video and app-based mobile use relative to web browsing.