Here’s why data usage in India increased 15-fold in the past 3 years

Here’s why data usage in India increased 15-fold in the past 3 years

  • The monthly data usage in India is 15 times more than what it was in 2014.
  • The direct reason for this is cheaper data and cheaper smart devices.
  • The indirect reason is due to increase in sources of content.
It’s no secret that Internet penetration in India has boomed over the past couple of years. And to understand how much and how fast it has grown, here’s some data. In just the past three years data usage per month has gone up 15 times over what it was in 2014. What started as users consuming 0.26 GB data per month, has increased to 4GB per month according to figures from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

The reasons why…

The reason why India has experienced exponential growth in usage can be attributed to multiple factors, but TRAI identified two main factors. One, and the more obvious, is the fall in prices of fast 4G data. And the other reason is simply the increase in the sources of content for smartphones.

What started with apps like Saavn and Gaana launching in India, steam rolled into Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime launching over the past two to three years. So much so that the global streaming sources have started creating original content that is localised for Indian audiences.

These factors, combined with the catalyst of 4G speed, is essentially what has pushed data usage forward.

And now, the how…

The data presented by TRAI illustrates that it was Jio’s entry in 2016 that brought about a sharp drop in prices. The data price crash shows average data tariff dipping from ₹226 in 2015 down to ₹79 the next year. And, at that same time, data usage per user per month increased by 0.4 GB to 1.18 in just one year.


This may be good news for consumers, but it doesn’t bode as well for the GSM players involved. Average revenue per user (ARPU), a key measure in assessing a company’s health according to TRAI, has taken a huge hit. It peaked in 2015 at ₹123, but has been falling since to rest at the current value of ₹81.

TRAI’s estimates are actually quite humble. The report by Nokia MbIT that came out in February reported 11GB of average consumption per user in the month of December 2017.