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4G turns out to be one small step, not giant leap, from 3G

If you were counting on Bharti Airtel’s 4G services to surf websites at lightning fast speeds and download movie and songs in the blink of an eye, get ready to be disappointed. While 4G is supposed to be about twice as fast as 3G, the actual speed is just a shade more.

business Updated: Jul 01, 2015 06:28 IST
M Rajendran
M Rajendran
Hindustan Times
mobile networks,4g connection,internet speed
Close-to-a-quarter-of-mobile-phone-users-worldwide-now-have-a-4G-connection-Photo-AFP-Sergey-Nivens-shutterstock-com

If you were counting on Bharti Airtel’s 4G services to surf websites at lightning fast speeds and download movie and songs in the blink of an eye, get ready to be disappointed. While 4G is supposed to be about twice as fast as 3G, the actual speed is just a shade more.

Perhaps this also explains why the operator is offering the 4G service, which is currently at the trial stage in New Delhi, at the same rate as its 3G.

Airtel’s 4G palpably lacks the vaunted data speed it is supposed to generate. The globally accepted internet broadband speed on mobile devices for 4G is 50-100 megabits per second (Mbps).

HT tested 4G services for a day all over the Capital, and obtained 30-35 Mbps, though the operator claims – unofficially – that it has touched 45 Mbps. It does touch 40-45 Mbps in other cities where it has 4G services, and a more acceptable 60 Mbps in Chandigarh.

HT did manage to get uninterrupted 4G service during testing in Delhi.

“The objective of the 4G trial/beta launch in select pockets of Delhi-NCR is to assimilate customer feedback from early adopters, and leverage the market response towards strengthening our service experience prior to the commercial launch,” an Airtel spokesperson said, in response to an email from HT. “As part of the beta launch we have made 3G pricing the same as 4G so that users can use 4G even with a 3G plan.”

Another operator, Reliance Jio, is still testing the network and is yet to launch services.

This reporter travelled across Delhi to test internet speeds in parts of the city with high foot falls. Samsung A5, HTC M8, Xiaomi Mi 2 were used in the test.

Results from HT’s tests in the city were interesting. As the data content being downloaded got heavier, the difference between 3G and 4G progressively narrowed.

A 123-page e-version of Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Gitanjali’, a relatively light data content, downloaded in just 2 seconds using 4G, against 8 seconds in 3G.

Downloading the video Skype application took 12 seconds using 4G and 29 seconds in 3G, at Lakshmi Nagar in east Delhi. The same exercise at Rajouri Garden metro station in west Delhi took 6.6 seconds (4G) and 25 seconds (3G). A Skype video chat did not have any buffer on 4G, while 3G had minor buffering.

A more heavy file – a 1 minute and 33 second HD song video ‘Selfie Le Le Re’, from the movie ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ starring Salman Khan, was downloaded in 40 seconds using 4G, and in 55 seconds through 3G.

At Delhi University’s north campus and Kamala Nagar area, a 2 minute 39-second HD trailer of ‘Katti-Batti’, took 1 minute and 35 seconds to download in 4G, and 1 minute and 40 seconds in 3G.

The same test at Green Park, Rajouri Garden, South Campus and also RK Puram, Vasant Kunj and Sarai Rohilla areas showed a difference of only 10-15 seconds between 4G and 3G networks. South Delhi’s Green Park area provided the best 4G performance, with download speeds hitting 35 Mbps.

Download speed is the speed at which your mobile device can pull out data from the internet, while upload speed refers to how fast it can push out data such as pictures or videos.



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Launch of 4G network services may get delayed in Delhi, Mumbai

1 out of 4 mobile phone users is on a 4G network

First Published: Jul 01, 2015 01:17 IST