Almost half of all Indian smartphone users think 3G is no better than 2G

If you feel there’s no difference between 2G and 3G speeds offered by your telecom operator, 48 percent of mobile Internet subscribers in India agree with you. But while your carrier may actually be giving you miserably slow 3G data, the belief that there’s no variation in 2G and 3G by a vast majority of people has more to do with ignorance more than anything else.

Ericsson ConsumerLab has rolled out a report titled ‘The Changing Mobile Broadband Landscape’ which paints affordability and ‘digital literacy’ as the main reasons behind Indians refusing to subscribe to mobile broadband. 88 percent of respondents think it’s too expensive, making the recent threat by telecom companies to increase data rates by six times a very serious issue.

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This may alternately provide more fodder to those who are fighting against net neutrality by trying to give preferential treatment to sites or services based on how much they can afford to pay. Airtel Zero and Internet.org have been at the eye of the storm since the debate about a free and fair Internet broke out in India. It actually started with Airtel trying (and failing) to charge more for voice calls made through services like Skype or WhatsApp over and above the data charges users already pay.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) which is expected to protect the rights of the citizens has been behaving quite suspiciously about the entire issue and most recently, abandoned all pretenses of having any common sense by publishing the email IDs and messages of the lakhs of Indians who wrote to protest against its anti-net neutrality consultation paper. Ericsson says that people use twice as much data compared to those can’t understand the plan they’ve signed up for.

Also see: Indian telcos to punish customers for net neutrality, to hike data tariffs by sixfold

Mid-size and small urban areas are have 33 percent smartphone penetration, while large cities and big non metropolitan areas account for 27 percent of the same. This means more demand for data, though telecom companies will pretend they’re only being hit by losses due to the decreasing use of SMS and voice calls thanks to the increasing adoption of smart devices. Apps for social networking and instant messaging are the most popular, which explains why network operators are playing crybaby.

Services or application for online shopping, banking, cloud storage and navigation over mobile are still picking up, according to Ericsson India’s Vice President and Head of Strategy and Marketing, Ajay Gupta. 70 percent of mobile broadband subscribers with smartphones stream videos on their handset and 61 percent engage in social networking activities while on the go. Quality of service differs depending on location including whether mobile Internet is being access indoors or outdoors.

Also see: TRAI conducts mobile customer satisfaction survey via web and Android app

63 percent of people who responded to the survey complained about quality and reliability problems including lost connections and varying network speeds indoors. 68 percent were troubled by app-related glitches like lagging, long refresh periods, maps not loading or session failures when outdoors or commuting. Though Ericsson reveals that such issues are less common in large cities, we don’t think it’s an accurate statement judging by our experiences with 2G and 3G data on different networks.