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Are you running a 5G speed test? Your phone data may be gone in seconds

Social media platforms such as Twitter are rife where Indian users are posting screenshots of the tests showing high speeds below 5G but complaining that their data packets are exhausted after running too many speed tests. That’s because, with each test run, the app takes 700-800MB of data – or roughly half of a typical daily data limit – to measure a continuous 15-20 second download speed.

Mumbai-based Gaurav Hasnabis has complained about high data consumption in games, social media and streaming apps although its usage patterns have remained the same. For example, 10 minutes of browsing Instagram on 5G consumed 207MB of data, while on 4G it was around 120MB.

This is because these apps – and other similar ones – download content in higher quality in areas with extensive 5G coverage. An industry executive said that once metaverse apps, cloud gaming, and 4K and 8K streaming appear, data consumption will rise even more.

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A typical speed check showed download speeds of up to 500 Mbps, and sometimes 800 Mbps, for a user in Delhi. But this means that more than 1 GB of data was consumed in less than a minute, forcing it to buy additional data packages.

Currently, Jio, under its beta trials, allows the use of unlimited data limit to recharge with a minimum of INR 230. For Airtel users, 5G services are offered at 4G rates and with daily data limits.

Operators are expected to roll out specific plans for 5G once coverage is expanded to most parts of India, an industry executive familiar with the matter said. Vodafone Idea hasn’t started offering 5G yet.

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“Carriers expect data usage to rise at least 2.5 times, if not more, to roughly 40-50GB, once they start becoming a 5G consumer,” said a telecoms industry executive. He pointed out that data consumption in the era of the fourth generation is about 17 gigabytes per user per month, compared to 300 megabytes in the era of the third generation.

Sweden’s Ericsson expects data consumption in India to rise to 50GB per user per month by the end of 2027, when 5G is expected to account for nearly 40% of mobile subscriptions.

In markets where 5G networks already operate with a large user base, such as the United States and South Korea, data consumption has already risen as much as 2.7 times, according to a 2021 report by OpenSignal. Consumers in markets like Taiwan were consuming 47.3GB of data per month, especially during the COVID-19 period.

The sudden increase in data consumption will be an educational exercise for consumers who need to learn how to control data usage by turning off nonessential items on their devices, said Prashant Singhal, communications analyst at Ernst and Young.

An analyst at a multinational brokerage, who wished to remain anonymous, added that in the initial phase, telecoms companies may allow users to deplete their data packets faster to encourage them to buy more data, preparing them to increase the costs of using 5G services.

Amid rising data consumption in the 5G era, carriers may see a rise in average revenue per user (ARPU) over time, Singhal said. The average ARPU in the industry is around Rs 165 now.

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Bharti Airtel has launched 5G services in eight cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Varanasi and Siliguri. Jio’s pilot trials are in operation in New Delhi, Nathdwara, Varanasi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru.

Airtel said its 5G service will start in all major urban centers by March 2023 and most urban and rural areas by March 2023. Reliance Jio said it will be able to complete operation on major metros by December 2022 and cover all of India by the end of 2023.

In the midst of 5G rollouts, a survey conducted by Electronic Media Research (CMR) shows that Indian youth want a better experience by using higher specifications for content creation, consumption and gaming. That’s a trigger for shipments of $25,000-$30,000 premium smartphones growing 9% year-over-year in the third quarter ending September, while the uber-$100,000 premium smartphone range jumped 39% On the general, CMR said.