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Jio's 4G availability 'hugely impressive': OpenSignal

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(Image: OpenSignal)

OpenSignal has published a report on Indian mobile telecommunications, with Reliance Jio winning on 4G availability and latency while Airtel clocked the fastest download speeds and Vodafone’s Idea was the fastest for uploads.

For its Indian Mobile Network Experience Report: November 2018 [PDF], the network coverage mapping company recorded 10.5 billion measurements across 1.8 million unique devices between June 1 and August, 29, 2018.

Calling Jio “remarkable” and “hugely impressive” with its rapid rate of customer growth, OpenSignal said it scored 96.7 percent on 4G availability, trailed by more than 20 percentage points by Airtel, on 73.99 percent; Idea, on 73.17 percent; and Vodafone, on 72.59 percent.

“The operator has managed to achieve availability scores of over 95 percent in all of India’s regions, despite huge variations in topography, and in the face of massive increases in subscribers and data consumption,” OpenSignal said.

“4G Availability scores of over 95 percent are very rare, particularly remarkable in a relatively new LTE market like India … Jio has recently secured infrastructure assets from now-defunct rival RCOM, while it is now turning its attention to the fixed-line sector, meaning we expect to see no let-up in the Jio success story.”

Jio also won across latency, with an average of 72.2 milliseconds. Vodafone followed, on 80.42ms; Airtel on 86.53ms; Idea on 88.78ms; and BSNL on 114.48ms.

Jio additionally tied first with Airtel and Vodafone on the new category of “video experience”, which analyses how customers experience video streaming including load time, stalling rates, and picture quality.

However, Airtel remained the winner across download speeds, providing an average of 7.53Mbps on average for its customers — 9.96Mbps on its 4G network and 2.53Mbps on 3G.

“The operator continues to raise the stakes through extensive network investment, recently unveiling some wide-ranging expansion plans in Karnataka, the Uttar Pradesh East and West telecoms regions, and Rajasthan, as well as deploying Massive MIMO mobile technology in urban Kolkata,” OpenSignal said.

“Competition in India’s mobile market remains at fever pitch, and Airtel seems determined to remain a serious contender.”

It was followed on download speeds by Jio, on 5.47Mbps; Vodafone, on 5.2Mbps; Idea, on 4.92Mbps; and BSNL, on 2.7Mbps.

Across upload speeds, however, Idea was the fastest with speeds of 2.88Mbps. It was followed by Vodafone, on 2.31Mbps; Airtel, on 1.9Mbps; Jio, on 1.58Mbps; and BSNL, on 0.78Mbps — although OpenSignal noted that BSNL has been approved by the regulator to deploy a nationwide LTE network across its holdings in the 2100MHz spectrum band.

“The Indian mobile competitive landscape is set for further upheaval with the merger of Idea and Vodafone,” OpenSignal added.

“The merged Vodafone Idea will be India’s largest operator in terms of subscriber share, and the company’s combined customer bases, and network and infrastructure assets, will undoubtedly make it a force to be reckoned with.”

Despite this, OpenSignal said it is predicting the Indian telco price war to end soon, saying there are questions over whether Jio’s aggressive price offerings are sustainable.

“With a major 5G spectrum auction expected within the next couple of years, India’s mobile operators face some tough decisions about where to focus their investment … India has already seen a savage round of mergers and exits in the past few years, and competition does not appear to be subsiding,” OpenSignal said.

“Quite simply put, something has to give. And Jio is signalling the beginning of the end with its move away from unsustainable free offerings towards tiered paid data models that are more familiar in the rest of the mobile world.

“This will hopefully take some of the pressure off operator margins, and as fierce competition and subscriber growth begins to plateau as the market matures, India’s operators will have more breathing space to focus on other ways to differentiate, such as bundling and service quality, as opposed to a race to the bottom on price.”

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