Milestone Year for Mobile

23 Dec,2019


By Indrani Sen


The current year will go down as a milestone year in the history of Mobile when 5G networks, the next generation of mobile internet connectivity was launched and in US TV was dethroned for the first time by Mobile as the media channel where Adults in US spend the most time.


In April, 2019 Verizon surprised most of the world by launching first its 5G network in Chicago and few other locations. UK was not far behind as EE launch its 5G network, switching it on in six cities in UK in May 30 2019,  followed by Vodafone launching 5G  in seven cities in July 3, 2019. Australia soon followed suit. China and Korea have also been planning 5G network for a long time and launched the services around mid- 2019. China has officially announced that they will have 150 million 5G mobile subscribers by 2020. By end of 2019, 5 million Koreans are expected to have 5G phones.


On December 19, 2019  announced in a report that the average US adult spent 3 hours, 43 minutes (3:43) on their mobile devices in 2019, compared with the average 3:35 spent watching TV ( Only three years back, in 2016 the same US adults watched nearly an hour more of TV than they spent on their smartphones and tablets (4:05 vs. 3:08). The forecast made by shows that the trend is going to continue with the share of time spent on mobile climbing higher year on year.


In India, we are seeing the trend of increasing time spent on digital media driven mainly by mobile, but we have still years to go before an average adult Indian starts spending more time on mobile than on TV. But the trend has set in among select target audience groups including millennials at the upper and lower end of the economic ladder. A survey is conducted among college going students who including their travel and class hours spend a lot of time outside their home about time spend on TV and on mobile, may find that they are already spending more time on mobile than on TV, helped by the choices available on OTT platforms. The student community is a mix of young people coming from lower middle class to upper class homes, but almost everyone today owns a mobile which has become a necessity rather than a luxury.


Reliance Telecom Services celebrated three years of Jio in 2019. Jio has revolutionised the use of mobile among certain working class people like auto rickshaw drivers, household maids who often indulge in seeking entertainment through their mobiles during short breaks in their work schedule. Such people usually have long working hours and as a result may have started spending more time on their mobiles than on watching TV at home. Again a survey conducted among such target audience groups may reflect the truth, but as these people have poor purchasing power, a survey among them will serve only academic interest.


Current research conducted by different agencies are showing that time spent on digital media including mobile is growing at a faster rate than all other media in India. A recent report by McKinsey showed that with data becoming more accessible, monthly mobile data consumption per user is growing at 152 per cent annually in India — more than twice the rates in the United States and China and internet users will rise by about 40 per cent and number of smartphones will be double by 2023.
( ) Time spent on mobile internet has gone up from 9.4 minutes daily in 2013 to 54 minutes in 2019 and is expected to reach 79 minutes by 2021.


Global Web Index’s Social Media Trends 2019 Report showed that Indian users spent 2.4 hours on social media, in line with the global average ( This finding is confusing as if the average time spent on mobile internet is 54 minutes then how can Indian users spent 2.4 hours on social media which is mostly consumed through mobile internet? The sample size of the social media survey covered 15000 Indians among 2.78 lakh respondents across 45 countries, but the details of the sampling frame work is not available, so it is difficult to figure out if the survey was limited to mobile users only which will explain the discrepancy.


The writings on the walls are very clear, like the rest of the world the average adult Indian will also be gradually moving to spending more time on mobile than on TV. The global milestone year 2019 should be an inspiration for our telecom industry to accelerate their growth plans and move in that direction.


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