India is set to cross the 900 Mn mark of internet users in the country, according to the recently published Cisco Annual Internet Report (2018–2023), thanks to the increased penetration of affordable smartphones and cheaper internet plans.
The report also predicts that India, which will have a population of 1.42 Bn by 2023, will have around 2.1 Bn internet-connected devices by 2023. As of now, there are 1.5 Bn internet-connected devices, Cisco estimates. The numbers suggest that internet penetration in India is growing at 7x than the population growth rate in India by 2023.
With the increased penetration of the internet, there is also going to a certain rise in demand for high-end smartphones as well. The Cisco report estimates that power of smartphones is expected to reach the hand of 55% of the population of India by 2023, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 5%.
The report also predicts that the other internet-connected devices, besides smartphones, in India will grow at 7% which is higher than the growth of smartphones. These devices include smart televisions, laptops, voice assistance devices, among others.
5G Still A Pipedream For India
While internet penetration is expected to increase in India significantly in upcoming times, high early adoption of the fifth-generation (5G) cellular networks technology still remains a long shot in the country.
Although 5G is yet to be launched in India, the report has also highlighted that the adoption of this technology is going to be slow for the next three years. According to the report, only 5% of the population will upgrade and switch to the 5G network by 2023.
As of now, the 5G trials in India are getting delayed as telecom giants — Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India — are seeking an extension on to submit their proposals. Moreover, the cellular operators association of India (COAI), representing private players Vodafone Idea, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, have also called for lower prices in the 5G band of 3.3-3.6 GHz and the 700 MHz bands.
At the same, the 4G network is expected to increase its presence in rural parts of the country. By 2023, 4G will have a share of 51% of the total mobile internet connections in India.
The report also predicts an improved growth of wired or wireless broadband connection in the county. It estimates that from 359.8 Mn broadband connections in 2018, India might have 697.4 Mn such connections by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 14.2%.
With an increased number of smartphones and internet connections, the total number of application downloads in India is expected to grow more than double by 2023. From 20.7 Bn in 2018, the number of application downloads will increase to 46.2 Bn in 2023, according to the report.