64% Indians surf mobile internet on the cheap

Parvathi Benu | Updated on: Aug 09, 2022
The big connect: As many as 80.19 crore Indians have mobile internet subscription

The big connect: As many as 80.19 crore Indians have mobile internet subscription | Photo Credit: RAGHUNATHAN SR

Uttar Pradesh has most number of subscribers, Lakshadweep the fewest

Which is the most common possession of an average Indian household? It is the mobile phone, going by the National Family Health Survey (2019-21). Almost all the households surveyed (93 per cent) owned a mobile phone, even as only 89.4 per cent had cots or mattresses, for instance. 

So, it may be no surprise that almost 64 per cent of Indians aged above five have access to cheap mobile internet connection. This can be gleaned from the following facts. As many as 80.19 crore Indians have mobile internet subscription, Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan said in reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on July 27. 

The mobile phone has become the is the most common possession of the everyday Indian. Also, mobile data is very cheap. In this video, Parvathi Benu takes a look at the numbers.

According to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) projections from June 2022, there are 125.8 crore Indians aged above five. And a week-old report from cable.co.uk says mobile internet is quite cheap in India. 

Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of subscribers — 10.15 crore, followed by Maharashtra with 9.45 crore, West Bengal with 5.47 crore and Tamil Nadu with 5.34 crore subscribers. Eighteen states and Delhi have more than one crore mobile internet subscribers each; Lakshadweep has the fewest — 84,363. 

How cheap exactly? 

Prices of petrol and LPG may be rising, but one can surely count on affordable mobile data in India — the fifth cheapest worldwide, according to the report.

A GB of mobile internet costs $0.17 (about ₹13.2) in India, as of April 2022, the report says. The cheapest is in Israel, at $0.04 per GB, with Italy, San Marin and Fiji next in order.

In 2019, a GB of data cost $0.26 in India. In 2020, it fell to $0.09​​, largely due to the low-cost plans of Reliance Jio. However, this could not be sustained, with adjusted gross revenue dues burdening telecom operators, and the price of mobile data shot up to $0.68 per GB in 2021. That year, 27 countries had cheaper mobile data compared with India. 

Commenting on this, Piyush Pandey, Lead Analyst-Institutional Equities, Yes Securities, said, “By 2021, a lot of countries started introducing 5G. With this, people would consume more data, but at a cheaper cost per GB. This maybe why India slipped positions in 2021.”

Countries with the most expensive mobile data in 2022 include Saint Helena ($41.06), the Falkland Islands ($38.45), São Tomé and Príncipe ($29.49), Tokelau ($17.88) and Yemen ($16.58). The similarities between these five nations are both striking and obvious. Two are in Sub-Saharan Africa, and four are island nations. 

Broadband vs mobile 

While India enjoys low-cost mobile internet, the scene is different for broadband connections. Another report by cable.co.uk says India’s broadband internet is the 26th cheapest in the world, at an average $15.59 (about ₹470.82) per monthly package as of February 2022. It is the cheapest in Syria, at $2.15. 

Published on August 04, 2022
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