Reliance Jio, India’s biggest telecom operator, saw a 21% jump in data traffic after the lockdown was imposed, which may be less than what has been seen on competitors’ networks.
The company said the lock-down has led to a “surge of up to 17 cr GB per day”. Since Jio’s traffic prior to the lock-down was around 14 cr GB per day, the increase due to the Coronavirus lockdown seems to be to the extent of 21%.
In contrast, a recent comment by Vodafone Idea’s chief technology officer indicates that the company has seen a much higher rate of growth in data traffic after the lockdown was imposed.
Vishant Vora, CTO of Vodafone Idea, recently said in an interview that his company saw “one year’s worth of growth within one week in terms of traffic” after the lock-down was imposed in late March.
Given that Vodafone Idea’s data traffic has been growing at a rate of around 40% per year, the comment seems to indicate that the take-up of data on that network increased nearly twice as fast that on Jio’s network during the lock-down. However, the final number will be known only in the next 7-10 days when the company gives its quarterly update.
On March 28, Cellular Operators’ Association of India, which represents nearly all the active mobile service providers, also said there was a 30% increase in data consumption after the lockdown was imposed on March 25.
Part of the reason for the faster growth of data consumption on Vodafone Idea’s network, and the slightly slower growth on Jio’s network, may be to do with recent tariff changes in the market.
Jio has, over the last few months, implemented sharp increases in data prices to the extent of around 25-30%. The price of Jio’s 1.5 GB/day long-term plan has been raised from Rs 448 to Rs 555 during this period.
On the other hand, Vodafone Idea was offering ‘double data’ on its 299, 449 and 699 plans for anyone who was recharging with the 1-month, 2-month or 3-month plan.
However, within a couple of days of COAI making that comment, most of India’s video-on-demand players, including Youtube, Hotstar, Prime and Netflix, announced that they will stop offering high-definition videos over mobile networks as long as the lockdown is in place.
Jio’s quarterly numbers also revealed that over 70% of the data used on its wireless network is for consuming video. Various surveys have indicated that people are consuming more and more video on demand content on their mobile phones during the Coronavirus lock-down.