India to have 1.4 bn mobile subscribers by 2020: Report

New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) India will have at least 1.4 billion mobile subscribers by 2020, resulting in a population penetration of 100 percent, says a report released by Swedish communication technology and services provider Ericsson.

According to the report, the growth will primarily be driven by the increasing affordability of devices and services.

“Maintaining and improving quality of the user experience is likely to be at the top of Indian operators’ agenda over the coming years,” Chris Houghton, India head at Ericsson, said.

“A network with a mix of macro sites, micro sites and small cells will need to be established to manage coverage, capacity and network performance for the best user experience and to meet the growing demand for data services,” he added.

The report also observed that GSM/EDGE subscriptions will decline from 780 million in 2014 to around 510 million by 2020.

“The GSM/EDGE subscription base is predicted to peak in 2015 and decline thereafter as subscribers migrate to 3G services,” the report revealed.

Also, the report claims that WCDMA/HSPA subscriptions will increase from over 120 million in 2014 to around 620 million by 2020 due to the increase in proportion of WCDMA/HSPA subscriptions from 13 percent to 45 percent.

On the other hand, LTE subscriptions is scripted to reach more than 230 million by 2020, forming around 17 percent of the total subscription base, as per the report. Currently, GSM/EDGE technology has the widest reach in India, with 95 percent population coverage.

The report also unveiled trends of Indian consumers. “On average, Indian smartphone users spend over three hours a day on their smartphones and 25 percent of them check their phones over 100 times a day,” it said.

As per the report around one third of the time spent on smartphones is used for apps, primarily chat, social media, and gaming.

“There has been an increase of over 20 percent in the overall time spent on smartphones and around a 65 percent increase in app usage since 2012, when Ericsson ConsumerLab measured these parameters,” it said.

Interestingly, it also points out that as consumers watch more content, their tolerance for delays will decrease.

“Nearly 65 percent of mobile broadband users prefer to stream rather than download videos on smartphones and 4 out of 10 videos played have issues with buffering and stalling.”

The report also points out that monthly mobile data consumption is expected to increase 18-fold by 2020 over current levels.

“Across all mobile technologies in India, monthly data usage per subscriber is still relatively low, primarily because of a sub-optimal 2G and 3G user experience. This is caused by the inability of 2G networks to support high-bandwidth services, insufficient 3G network coverage, and a lack of relevant local content,” it said.

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