Mobile data penetration skyrocketing

Rural Karnataka driving the growth, propelled by cheap smartphones

Mobile data penetration skyrocketing

Cheap smartphones killed the basic feature phone. But this is old hat, not as dramatic as the overnight democratisation of a trend once reserved only for the moneyed classes: Instant, 24/7 access to the Internet through mobile phones, a trend that has penetrated even deep into rural Karnataka as revealed by the latest mobile data consumption reports.

Mundgod (Uttara Kannada district), Karkala, Manipal (Udupi district) and Piriyapatna (Mysuru district) lead mobile data consumers in rural Karnataka.

Studies by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International to track quarterly consumption patterns have established that users in these rural pockets download and use the maximum number of mobile apps per day.

To capitalise on this rising consumption, mobile operators such as Airtel and Idea Cellular have launched a number of data-intensive apps. Airtel, for instance, has its Airtel Pocket TV.

“Data packs starting from as low as Rs 5 and Rs 25 have received an overwhelming response from the rural markets in Karnataka,” an Airtel official told Deccan Herald.
Data revenues surge

Mobile operators banked on the rising data consumption to boost their revenues in the second quarter. The Airtel official said the operator’s revenues from data grew by 68.8 per cent from the previous years, contributing 12.4 per cent of its India revenue. Even Idea earned 11.5 per cent of its quarterly revenue through data services.

In Karnataka, Bharti Airtel’s mobile Internet customer base stood at 4.5 million. IAMAI and IMRB International reports indicated that till June 2014, the country had 243 million Internet users, with most accessing the Net through mobile devices. India is expected to overtake the United States as the second largest Internet base in the world. China currently leads with more than 300 million Internet users, while the US has an estimated 207 million Internet users.

The reports were clear that the number of mobile Internet users in India witnessed a steady rise, reaching 110 million in October 2013. Twenty million new users had jumped on the mobile Internet bandwagon by December 2013.

The dramatic drop in prices of smartphones and the rise of local brands have invariably boosted the growth of mobile Internet. Although Samsung continued to lead the mobile market with a 29 per cent share in Q2 2014, Indian vendors Micromax with a share of 18 per cent, Karbonn and Lava performed better with cheaper devices. Reports indicated that the entry-level segment of smartphones has become a game changer.

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