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NEW DELHI : The coronavirus lockdown fast-tracked internet usage in India by two-three years, with average monthly data usage rising by 30% to cross 11GB, an Ernst and Young study said.

The survey by professional services firm Ernst and Young, titled Digital Consumer Survey: Shaping The New Normal, surveyed over 2,600 consumers to study the changing behaviour and perception towards digital services. As many as 76% of the respondents were high-data users, while 24% were basic users.

One-third of the respondents upgraded broadband plans, with unlimited plans, accounting for 40% of total upgrades. Many basic users, or those using data only for thin web-browsing, chatting and calling, are migrating to the high-user bucket. Nearly 11% of basic users upgraded existing packs to either unlimited or 50-100% higher data for more content streaming, gaming and video calling.

Remote working has raised demand for video conferencing and productivity tools. The survey reveals that as many as 76% respondents are either first-timers to these tools, or have increased the time they spent on video calls.

90% respondents are spending more time on digital activities such as content streaming, e-learning, infotainment and social media. Nearly 61% consumers are streaming more content than they were before the lockdown with time spent on video streaming surging 1.2 times to an average of 4.2 hours per user per week. Further, 60% respondents prefer subscription-based video-on-demand, while 20% prefer TV entertainment. Nearly 50% of respondents who prefer TV are spending more time watching movies, shows and news telecast.

The integration of digital with education has led to the emergence of a new breed of digital learners who are adopting technology faster than ever. Nearly 59% respondents are learning online and almost 50% respondents prefer learning on edtech platforms over accessing learning material scattered on web portals.

The report said that scaling network connectivity and access to technologies in far-flung rural hinterlands is an opportunity to drive radical socio-economic gains.

The pandemic has also accelerated the transition to a cashless ecosystem. Digital platforms are gaining strength as a preferred medium for most purposes. Nearly 38% respondents started using digital payments for the first time. Digital wallets stand strong, with 53% respondents making payments through e-wallets.

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