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A survey conducted by private firm LocalCircles has revealed that 2 in 3 Indian consumers surveyed who use digital payments have 1 or more of their transactions disrupted each month due to poor 3G or 4G network quality.

Citing increased dependence on internet connectivity over phone, especially  during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, the survey has found that 62% of 3G/4G mobile data customers are using their connections to conduct 1 or more banking/ payment transactions every month. 

India’s internet user base crossed the 830 million-mark in 2021 while the volume of wireless internet data usage in India has surged 7 times, as per Economic Survey of India 2021-22. The report further states that India’s average internet data usage has increased from 1.24 GB per month in 2018 to 14.1 GB in 2021. As per data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Jio recorded a 10% rise in average 4G data download speed while Vodafone and Airtel’s speed increased by 8.9% and 5.3%. 

This has prompted the telecom operators of India like Airtel and Vodafone to increase the tariff for both pre-paid and post-paid subscribers. The last tariff hike was made in November 2021 after a gap of 2 years. Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio had increased their tariffs in November 2021 by 20-25%. 

Analysts opine that Indian telcos could further increase tariffs in the range of 20-25% this year. 

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget 2022 has announced that the spectrum auction for the next-generation telecom network will be completed in 2022 so that the telecom operators are in a position to roll out services by 2022-23.

The survey further emphasised that 9 in 10 Indian consumers surveyed face either frequent disruptions or speed issues with their 3G or 4G mobile data connection. Further it has also been recorded that 46% of 3G/4G mobile data customers are using it to access internet for 4 hours or more each day. 

The survey also said that 62% of 3G/4G mobile data customers are using their connections to conduct 1 or more banking/payment transactions every month. 

66% of consumers surveyed who use digital payments say that 1 or more of their transactions gets disrupted each month due to poor 3G/4G network quality

While efforts are underway to roll out a 5G network to consumers in the next few years, consumers have complained that mobile operators providing 3G/4G internet data are not providing the value as per services opted by users. 

Even a driving test conducted by TRAI across 16 cities, including Dimapur, Kohima, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Siliguri, Patna, Itanagar, Malda and Agartala, was not up to the mark. 

The survey received over 38,000 responses from more than 352 districts of the country. 65% of the participants were men while 35% were women. 43% of respondents were from tier 1 districts, 32% from tier 2 and 25% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.

9 out of 10 mobile phone users in India complained of poor wireless connectivity

More than nine out of 10 mobile phone users in India complained of poor wireless connectivity, while two-thirds struggle with disrupted digital payments on older 3G and 4G networks, according to a local survey.

About 48% of 8,210 consumers surveyed by LocalCircles mentioned frequent disruptions to their mobile services due to poor network availability and 44% were disgruntled with low data speeds. In another survey question that drew in 11,865 consumer responses, 66% said they experienced snags in at least one online transaction, forcing them to rely on alternate payment mechanisms such as cash, check or credit cards, according to a statement from LocalCircles.

The findings spotlight the yawning gap in services currently delivered by Indian telecom carriers despite tariff hikes in recent months.

The survey’s findings also highlight the need to invest more in infrastructure to not just boost telecom services but also digital payments. India did 35 billion digital transactions in 2021, according to LocalCircles, which said that this number could go up significantly if wireless network issues are fixed.

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