The volume of wireless data usage has surged over 7x to 32,397 petabytes in 2021 from around 4,200 petabytes in 2018
The Economic Survey 2022 said the total telephone subscriber base has increased from 933.02 Mn in March 2014 to 1.2 Bn+ in March 2021
5.46 Lakh Km of optical fiber cable has been laid and 1.73 Lakh gram panchayats now have optical fiber cable connectivity
India’s internet user base crossed the 830 Mn mark in 2021, growing by over 530 Mn in the six years since 2015, according to the Economic Survey of India 2021-22. The total volume of wireless internet data usage in India has surged over 7x to 32,397 petabytes in 2021 from around 4,200 petabytes in 2018.
The survey also claimed that India’s average internet data usage has increased from 1.24 GB per month in 2018 to 14.1 GB in June 2021. “With huge surge in data consumption due to online education, work from home, interpersonal connect through social media, and virtual meetings the reform measures will further boost the proliferation and penetration of broadband and telecom connectivity,” the survey said.
Further, the total telephone subscriber base has increased from 933.02 Mn in March 2014 to 1.2 Bn+ in March 2021. At the end of FY21, 45% of subscribers were based in rural India and 55% in urban areas. While 67.2% of internet subscribers had narrow-band connections and 32.8% had broadband connections in 2015, by June 2021 this had reversed to 4% subscribers with narrow-band connections and 96% with broadband connections.
Last year, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) revised the definition of broadband internet to cover all connections with a minimum speed of 2 Mbps, up from 512 Kbps which was the benchmark set in 2013.
As for the development of nationwide optical fibre network also known as BharatNet, the Economic Survey said 5.46 Lakh Km of optical fiber cable has been laid and 1.73 Lakh gram panchayats now have optical fiber cable connectivity, out of which 1.59 Lakh gram panchayats are service ready. In 2020, the government had allocated INR 6000 Cr for BharatNet programme development.
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India’s Internet Economy Boom
Besides the telecom and internet subscriber base growth, the app economy also flourished in 2021.
India had the second-highest number of mobile app downloads in the world after China, with over 27 Bn downloads coming from the country, beating USA which only clocked 12.2 Bn app downloads. A Kantar report last year said almost 9 out of 10 active internet users in urban and rural areas use the internet for entertainment and communication.
Indian users spent an average of about 4.7 hours daily on mobile apps in 2021. Social media and communication apps ruled the roost in India with 70.8% of users’ time being spent on them on average. Gaming (6.3%) and entertainment (3.8%) follow at a distant second and third with all the other categories together making up the rest of the 19%.
WhatsApp alone has over 530 Mn users in India, while YouTube is said to be second with 460 Mn users, followed by Facebook (350 Mn). Those numbers are larger than the population of most countries. India added 40 Mn new ecommerce shoppers this year, double of the 20 Mn new shoppers in 2020. Further, the overall digital payments has seen a 12x growth in volume between December 2020 and November 2021, according to official DigiDhan records.