State of Mobile Networks: India – an Open Signal Report

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With Jio completing 1 year the pattern of the growth rate of 4G data brings a technological advancement storm. The Jio emergence has forced the incumbent operators such as Airtel, Vodafone, Idea to change their whole perspective, to cut outrageously overpriced data and voice tariff to stay relevant and competitive. Thus a competitive and customer oriented market has emerged this year.

According to the report made by Open Signal Reliance Jio the fastest growing network has skyrocketed its speed by 50% in just last 6 months?

Reliance Jio's entry into telecom market created massive tariff wars forcing other incumbent players to cut their data and voice pricing. Telecom majors Airtel, Vodafone and Idea had to bring down their current prices resulting in a massive loss in average revenue per users.

In the graph average 4G download speeds have been tracked of Jio’s network. 

With 100 crore GB of data traffic per month and 200 crore voice and video minutes a day, Jio has become the largest network globally in terms of data carried and also have contributed to India becoming the leading country in the world for mobile data usage! Jio users are today consuming nearly as much data as the USA and 50% more data than China in a clear indication that India can and will adopt digitization and Digital Life faster than anyone else in the world.

There is an intense battle between Airtel and Reliance Jio for bragging the no. 1 position in 4G market had twisted plot when Jio’s 4G speed got raised dramatically. Although Airtel bagged 3G and 4G speed awards, the quality given by jio 4G gave a drive to Jio to be in the top of overall speed rankings. In short, Jio had a boost in fastest overall mobile data experience.

Jio which was launched in a huge spotlight of media attention shook the Indian mobile data market by offering free and unlimited data plans.

This helped Jio to catch 100 million users target in less than six months subscribing to 4G the only service. The claim of 85% of mobile data consumption riding toward 4G connections was something remarkable that this year has witnessed.

But Jio's enormous growth came at a cost Jio trailed its three nationwide competitors in 4G speed, even though it offered by far the greatest level access to 4G signals in the country. The picture was pretty clear: while it was easy to find a Jio 4G connection, there was so much competition for bandwidth that customers found those connections slowed down to near 3G speeds.

The arrival of April witnessed the speed of 4G increasing at a rapid pace after its free data promotion. The biggest decline was for Airtel which dropped its speed from 11.5 Mbps to 9.1 Mbps and that for Idea and Vodafone the speed test fell by about a megabit. Thus the effects of the Indian Mobile industry are responding to Jio’s massive growth was certainly seen.

The aggressive data pricing with cheap data plans which is provided by Jio is something that Airtel and Vodafone might try to combat.
Even though the telecoms are trying to achieve the no.1 position the 3G and 4G network speed is still fairly slow in India. What's added to it is the same congestion problems affecting 4G speed which appear to be taking a toll on 3G as well.


Telecom circle analysis, driven by three core LTE metrics, examined the comparison of all 4G operators in a particular region.However, all four 'national' 4G operators do provide services across the majority of India's 22 circles. Idea, for instance, doesn't have 4G service in the Delhi and Kolkata metro circles, though it does in Mumbai. Meanwhile, Vodafone is absent from Madhya Pradesh. We've only included the relevant operators in the relevant regions.
Jio has dominated the 4G availability rankings in all eight regions, as it had done nationally. Vodafone and Airtel's Long-term evaluation (LTE) availability scores are much higher than their national scores in the Delhi and Mumbai circles, demonstrating that there is a higher degree of penetration in India's largest urban areas. Meanwhile, Idea shows that the strength of its LTE rollout in south India, with LTE availability scores over 70% in the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Airtel which was the uncontested leader for 4G speed metric in five circles and several other regions got some impressive measurements. In Kolkata and Madhya Pradesh, the 4G speed results for Airtel exceeded 18 Mbps — double its national average. In Karnataka and Kerala, though, competitors vied with Airtel for the 4G speed crown. In Tamil Nadu, Vodafone was the clear winner with average 4G downloads of 14 Mbps in our tests.

Idea and Airtel gave national 4G-latency winner Vodafone a stiff challenge in our regional ping tests. Vodafone won the latency award in three circles, but Idea and Airtel took the prize in Mumbai and Tamil Nadu respectively. We recorded draws in the remaining three regions. In Madhya Pradesh, Jio tied with Idea for the win even though nationally it had the worst 4G latency in our tests.

India is a fascinating market that will only continue to get more intriguing. India's mobile market still has a surprising number of options. India has a mobile market that not only provides an incredibly diverse set of operators and cellular technologies, but also a redefining consumer's relationship to mobile data.
Jio's emergence last year has clearly unlocked a draft of demand for data, and clearly, the operators are going to respond to this growing demand. Today we see Jio and Airtel waging a war for 4G dominance, but in another year we could see that battle fought by many more combatants.

To say competition is heating up India would be an understatement. Already India is the world’s most diverse mobile market with dozen operators. But the introduction of new network surely increased the customer serving methods and the market. Thus the rapidly changing dynamics of Indian mobile sector might be the turning point for Indian Telecom Industry in future.
Source: An OpenSignal Report - State of Mobile Networks

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