In India, the average internet speed is one of the major discussion points among the leaders of new digital India. In mid-2016, the United Nations passed a non-binding resolution proclaiming the internet as a basic human right. This is just further proof of the immense importance of the internet in the modern world. Today, technological development is intrinsically linked to the availability and quality of internet access. The smartphone revolution has only exacerbated our immense dependence on the Internet. Therefore, the availability and speed of Internet have become the vitally important, often driving social and economic growth.
Akamai has recently released their quarterly “State of the Internet” report for Q1 2017, providing us with a window into Internet availability and quality standards worldwide, APAC and India – one of the fastest growing economy.
Let us analyze the data and gauge progress, with a particular focus on India and the APAC region.
The Average Internet Speed In APAC On The Rise
Each of the countries in the APAC surveyed by Akamai registered positive YoY growth in Q1 2017, with the notable exception of South Korea. The biggest gainer during this 1-year window was Vietnam, whose average internet speed rose from 5.0 Mbps in Q1 2016 to 9.5 Mbps in Q1 2017. This amounts to a massive 89% YoY increase.
Closely following behind is India, whose average internet speed rose from 3.5 Mbps in Q1 2016, to 6.5 Mbps in Q1 2017, at an 87% YoY growth rate. China was the other big gainer from the last year, with a 78% YoY growth rate to register average internet speed of 7.6 Mbps in Q1 2017.
On the other end of the spectrum, Hong Kong and Japan had the lowest YoY growth rates at 10% and 11%, respectively. South Korea’s average internet speed actually depreciated from last year, albeit by a small 1.7% margin. However, in all these regions, average internet speeds were already clocking high, to begin with. Thus, slow growth rates are not a matter of concern, as internet speeds growth is now approaching saturation in these regions. Case in point – South Korea continued to have the highest average internet speed in the world at 28.6 Mbps, despite the slight YoY depreciation.
The Average Internet Speed In India: Steady Progress
There is no doubt that India has made significant strides in improving the average internet speed over the past year. Throughout the first 3 quarters of 2016, India only experienced incremental growth. In Q1 2016, the average internet speed in India was a mere 3.5 Mbps. Going on to Q2 2016, things were essentially the same with average internet speed of 3.6 Mbps. In Q3 2016, the average Internet speed was 4.1 Mbps, grew by an appreciable margin of around 14% QoQ. However, things took a change for the better when the average internet speed in India skyrocketed to 5.6 Mbps in Q4 2016. This represents a QoQ growth rate of 36% and a massive 99% YoY growth. This momentum has carried into the new year, with an average internet speed in India rising to 6.5 Mbps in Q1 2017 at a 17% QoQ growth rate.
The credit for this massive overhaul can be attributed to Reliance Jio to a great part. Launched in September 2016, Jio has forced a complete overhaul of the Indian telecom industry. It brought affordable 4G broadband services to the masses and compelled its competitors to do the same. In under a year, Jio became the largest broadband service provider in India, with a 39% market share. As a result, a lot of people have gained access to high-speed internet. And Jio is not done yet either. They are intent on continuously enhancing the quality of their network. Also, the impending launch of Jio Fibre now looms on the horizon. It will reportedly offer blistering speeds up to 1 Gbps at severely discounted prices compared to its rivals. It is possible that this will trigger another price war in the wireline broadband industry as well.
India Still Lags Far Behind Peers, Despite Progress
Despite the enormous improvement in internet speed in India, it still severely lags behind other APAC countries. India still ranks 14th out of the 15 surveyed APAC countries, only ahead of the Philippines. The average internet speed in India now clocks at 6.5 Mbps, which remains some ways behind the global average internet speed of 7.2 Mbps in Q1 2017. The situation gets even worse if we compare the average peak internet speeds, where India ranks dead last at 41.4 Mbps. In contrast, Singapore had the highest average peak speed at a whopping 184.5 Mbps!
High speeds also remain relatively inaccessible to people, with only 42% adoption rate for 4+ Mbps speeds. This places India only ahead of the Philippines among all APAC countries; however, it still represents a significant improvement over the 23% adoption level last year. Surprisingly, the situation is a bit better in the 10+ Mbps region. Adoption levels increased 19% from a mere 4.8% last year. This put India in a slightly better 12th position in APAC. The story is similar for 15+ Mbps speeds. Adoption levels grew from 2% to 10% within a year, placing India at 11th position in APAC. This clearly illustrates the growing demand for high-speed internet in India.
If Jio Fibre is even half as successful as Jio, we can expect adoption levels for high speeds to improve dramatically.
The Road Ahead
If we compare India’s average connection speeds globally, the situation seems dire, with a lowly worldwide rank of 89. However, a closer look reveals that internet speeds have been on a sharp upward trend for the past two quarters. India’s global rank has also improved from 114 in Q1 2016 to 89 in Q1 2017. This coincides with the launch of Reliance Jio and the telecom industry revolution. The introduction of 4G on a wide scale has truly changed the game in the Indian landscape. There is still a multitude of issues to iron out, like inconsistency, poor network quality and restrictive FUP data caps. However, there is no denying the progress that has been made. Over the past year, data prices have fallen, and speeds have risen. The future now is destined to be bright if only this momentum can be maintained.