The Mobile Data Explosion: Indian Mobile Users Are IN, Hook, Line & Sinker

It is no secret that data consumption on the mobile has been growing in India. Just how much has it grown? We took a look at the recent earnings reports (quarter ended March 31, 2014) filed by three major telcos- Airtel, Idea and Reliance Communications- to figure out. Vodafone is another major player we should have had in here, but their results are a couple of weeks away. What is evident is that mobile data is growing really fast and data usage is exploding, nearly doubling over the year. Here’s a look at what we found.

Data 1

By the number of total subscribers (voice included), Airtel is the largest, followed by Idea and Reliance Communications.

Data 2

Both Airtel and Reliance Communications define Data User as anyone who has used over 0KB of data over the last 30 days. Which means that there could be users who are incidentally using data and not deliberately. Idea changed the definition of data user this quarter, counting only the ones that have used over 1MB of data over the last 30 days to weed out incidental users. That also has an impact on Idea’s average revenue per data user.

Data 3

Since Idea doesn’t count incidental users as data users, you’ll see that they have a higher data ARPU. Idea’s data ARPU grew 14.3% over the previous quarter and 89.1% year on year. Airtel’s data ARPU grew abou5 5% quarter on quarter and 43% year on year. Reliance does not separately declare data ARPU.

Data 4

You’s see that Idea’s data subscriber growth has been almost flat (because of the adjustment they made to offset incidental users). Quarter on quarter, the number of data subscribers haven’t grown significantly whereas year on year, it has.

Data 5

Data is increasingly becoming key for telco revenues. It is just a matter of time before it overtakes Value Added Services as a percentage of service revenues. At 10.1% and 11.1%, both Airtel and Idea have seen it inching up over the quarters. For Airtel, non voice as a % of service revenues for the quarter stood at 17.6% while it was 16.5% for Idea. Reliance Communications doesn’t declare these numbers separately.

Data 6

Data consumption has shown a sharp increase year on year as well as quarter on quarter. At 27299 Mn MBs, Idea’s data volume grew 31% QoQ & 139% year on year. At 46690 Mn MB, Airtel’s data volumes grew 19.8 % QoQ & 95.1% YoY. For Reliance Communications, it grew 20.5% sequentially and 84.5% annually.

Data 7

3G subscribers are the heaviest consumers of data. Airtel, Idea and Reliance saw 3G subscribers increase over the last few quarters. Data 8

Number of 3G subscribers on Idea grew 17.2% sequentially and 100% year on year. Airtel saw a 15.6% sequential growth and 71.6 % year on year growth. RCom saw similar growth at 16.2% QoQ and 79.2% YoY.

Here’s the full infographic we created with

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