How cheap mobile internet contrasts with soaring food and fuel prices
New Delhi: While Prime Minister Narendra Modi was right to point out that the price of mobile data in India has crashed over the past few years, it is also important to note that the prices of other essentials such as food and fuel have skyrocketed over the same period. .
During the launch of 5G services in the country on October 2, the prime minister claimed that while the data cost of 1GB used to be around 300 rupees, it has now fallen to around 10 rupees per GB.
He also pointed out that an average person consumes about 14 GB of data per month, which previously would have cost Rs 4,200 but now only costs Rs 125-150 per month.
ThePrint’s analysis of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) data for the period from June 2016 to March 2022 — the period for which this data is available — shows that the price of mobile data has indeed fallen sharply.
While a GB of data cost an average of Rs 200 in the March to June quarter of 2016, it has fallen to around one-twentieth of that at Rs 10.47 per GB in March 2022.
Along with this drop in prices, the use of mobile internet has increased significantly. TRAI maintains a larger database for Internet usage, which shows that average mobile data usage per subscriber per month has increased from just 0.06 GB in December 2013 to 15.8 GB in March 2022 , a growth of more than 263 times.
Interestingly, the impact of Reliance Jio, launched in September 2016, is immediately seen in the rapid growth in data usage, likely the result of its aggressive marketing strategy at the time.
During the same period, TRAI data shows that the number of mobile subscribers – already a substantial 88.6 crore in December 2013 – increased to 114.2 crore in March 2022, although there were a plateau in recent years.
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Other more expensive essentials
This trend of falling data prices is certainly worth celebrating, as is India’s development of indigenous 5G technology.
A comparison of all of these – mobile data, food, transportation fuel and cooking fuel – is not meant to undermine the achievements of the telecommunications industry, but simply to put them into context.
The average price for all India of attack (wheat flour) – an indicator of food price trends – fell from Rs 24.6 per kg in June 2016 to Rs 31.7 per kg in March 2022, according to data from the Department of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
Over a longer period, the price rose from 23.8 rupees per kg in January 2014 to 36.9 rupees per kg in September 2022, an increase of 55%.
The price of gasoline also rose sharply, largely due to the world price of oil.
Where a liter of petrol in Delhi cost 65.65 rupees in June 2016, according to the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell database, it cost 101.81 rupees in March 2022. The price has currently fallen slightly at 96.72 rupees per litre.
While food and transportation fuel are big items in any household’s budget, cooking fuel is also a big drain on the pocket.
The price of a 14.2 kg LPG cylinder in the nation’s capital rose from Rs 548.5 in June 2016 to Rs 949.5 in March 2022, according to data from the Indian Oil Corporation. The price is currently even higher, at Rs 1,053 per cylinder.
(Edited by Theres Sudeep)
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