Wednesday, 7 June 2017

India’s LTE download speeds marginally faster than global 3G speeds.

Source: ETTelecom

According to a report by OpenSignal, download speeds in India have dropped more than one megabit per second in the last six months as traffic has surged, mainly on the back of Reliance Jio Infocomm's free services. Rivals such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular have also slashed prices and offered freebies, further adding to demand for data services.

In fact, India--ranked 74th--came below the likes of Pakistan and Sri Lanka and just ahead of Costa Rica in terms of speed. Singapore scored the highest in 4G speed, while South Korea scored highest in 4G availability. The global average 4G download speed was 16.2 Mbps.

Consumer complaints over sluggish pace have pushed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to look closely at what carriers are providing.

“The widespread adoption of wireless broadband services in the last few quarters makes it particularly important to take into account the problems that may be faced by the users of these services, particularly in relation to data speeds,” the regulator said in a consultation paper on the topic.

India had 217.95 million data subscribers at the end of 2016, while average data usage has risen from 236 MB a month in September to 884 MB in December 2016, Trai data showed. The regulator had raised the minimum level of broadband download speed to 2 Mbps on January 1, 2015, from 512 kbps earlier.

The Mukesh Ambani-owned Jio has helped India make a big leap in terms of global 4G availability rankings, with users able to find a signal 81.6% of the time in the first quarter ended March, up from 71.6% in the third quarter of 2016. Jio’s 4G availability was at more than 90%, while the other major operators all fell below 60% in the tests conducted by OpenSignal. Still, the score was high enough to rank India at 15 among 75 countries in the State of LTE report.

“Most of that improvement can be attributed to a single operator: Reliance Jio,” OpenSignal said. “Ïndia shot up our LTE availability rankings, reflecting a rare instance in which a single operator can have an outsized impact on a mobile market in just a short time.”

However, OpenSignal termed “Jio’s success as a double-edged sword,” saying that the onslaught of data usage which Jio’s launch generated has taxed its network capacity, which has driven down 4G speeds.

Analysts said the mobile data explosion driven by the Jio launch and freebies or promotional offers by incumbent telcos, is putting huge pressure on mobile network infrastructure, especially in urban areas, leading to a capacity crunch which results in low speeds. Typically, 10% of sites account for 50 % of data traffic.

According to Motilal Oswal analysts, circle-wise data consumption indicates that 18-20% of overall consumption happens in the top-3 metros against 10 % in 'C ' circles, implying that data usage in the top-3 cities is twice the usage of all the 'C ' circle states put together. Thus, despite pan-India data capacity at 8-10x consumption, telcos need to add capacity in top-tier cities.

OpenSignal said it collected information from consumer smartphones and under normal usage conditions compared with drive-test data, which attempts to simulate what a user might experience by using the same devices to measure network performance in a small number of locations. OpenSignal took measurements from millions of smartphones owned by users who have downloaded its apps.