According to CARE Ratings, mobile industry data consumption has increased to around 12.2 GB per user per month in FY21, recording a YoY growth of 17.5 per cent. This is despite a rise in data tariffs as majority of the Indian workforce worked from home during the pandemic.

The surge in data consumption can also be attributed to the three telcos expanding their share of 4G users, out of their total user base, by 5 per cent to 70.3 per cent, even though average data rates surged nearly 27 per cent on YoY basis to Rs10.9 per GB in FY21.

CARE Ratings also highlighted that any upward movement in the top three telcos’ share of 4G subscribers is well for the industry as this set of users are better paying customers compared to 2G and 3G users.

According to CARE Ratings, in the past 3 years (FY19 to FY21), the aggregate 4G subscriber base of the top 3 telcos increased by a healthy 50.8 per cent — from 474 million in FY19 to 715 million in FY21 — in turn, expanding the share of 4G users in their total subscriber base to 70.3 per cent in FY21 from 51.4 per cent in FY19.

As per the report, growth in the collective 4G user base was also propelled by aggressive refarming of 2G/3G airwaves by the older carriers, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, for 4G services. Industry average revenue per user (ARPU) increased by 20.6 per cent on YoY basis to Rs 96 during FY21, despite a decline in the fiscal fourth quarter after inflows from interconnect usage charges (IUC) disappeared from January 1, 2021.

The ratings agency noted that the ARPU of the top three telcos is estimated to have averaged around Rs 138 in FY21, recording a growth of 11.6 per cent on YoY basis.