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4G coverage in India has grown but speeds have remained stagnant: OpenSignal

Indian telecom operators are focusing on expanding their 4G coverage rather than improving 4G speeds.

tech Updated: Apr 18, 2018 15:45 IST
Kul Bhushan
Kul Bhushan
Hindustan Times
Airtel,Reliance Jio,Airtel Reliance Jio
Airtel beats Reliance Jio to top 3G and 4G download speeds.(REUTERS)

Even as Airtel, Reliance Jio and other telecom operators are focusing on expanding their 4G LTE coverage in India, there’s been barely any improvement to 4G speeds, says OpenSignal, an independent firm that tracks mobile networks.

According to OpenSignal every major operator in India has managed to increase 4G availability for their subscribers over last few months but they aren’t boosting speed of their 4G services.

“All of India’s major 4G providers have now crossed the 65% LTE availability threshold, and three of them are now nearing the 70% mark. But we saw little movement in our 4G download metrics. In fact, we tracked slight drops in LTE speeds for three operators,” according to the latest OpenSignal’s State of Mobile Networks report.

The observation comes at a time when the telecom operators are engaged in a cut-throat competition to outdo each other with the lowest data tariffs with bundled value added services and higher validity.

Mostly targeted at Reliance Jio’s aggressive data plans, telecom operators such as Airtel have significantly reduced their tariffs in the last one year. Moreover, they have been regularly launching attractive plans with higher volume of 4G data.

The problem, however, is that the competition and lower tariffs haven’t helped improve the quality of services. According to OpenSignal’s report for the period between July 1 2017 and October 1 2017, India ranked at the bottom in a list of 77 countries for 4G speeds. The country was among the top 15 for 4G availability, though.

Internet testing and data company Ookla in its latest Speedtest Global Index placed India at the 67th position for fixed broadband speeds and at 109th for mobile internet speeds.

“In absolute terms, India’s performance in fixed broadband download speeds have gone up from average speeds of 18.82 Mbps in November 2017 to 20.72 Mbps in February 2018, marking significant improvement since last quarter,” said the Ookla report.

Reliance Jio has the best 4G availability. ( OpenSignal )

“India has also shown significant improvement in terms of its fixed broadband download speed rank, where it is now placed 67th vis-à-vis 76th last year. While India’s rank in terms of mobile internet download speed remains same at 109th but average download speeds have risen to 9.01 Mbps in February from 8.80 Mbps in November last year.”

Airtel tops 3G, 4G speeds but Jio expands LTE coverage

Airtel was ranked on top in terms of 3G and 4G download speeds by OpenSignal .

Airtel has the best average download speed at 9.3Mbps whereas Reliance Jio ranks third with 5.13Mbps average download speed. ( OpenSignal )

“Airtel held onto our 3G and 4G speed awards since OpenSignal’s last report, and it wrested our overall speed award away from Jio, locking down the top spot in all three of our speed categories. Jio, however, remained the closest contender in overall speed due to its high level of 4G access. It was able to deliver typical everyday download speeds of 5.1 Mbps in our tests, compared to Airtel’s 6 Mbps,” said OpenSignal in its latest report.

“Jio is still far ahead of its key rivals in 4G availability, beating all three by at least 27 percentage points in our measurements. Our testers were able to find an LTE signal on Jio’s network 96.4% of the time in our latest test period, up from 95.6% in our October report,” it added.

First Published: Apr 18, 2018 15:44 IST