The State of 4G In India: Deep Penetration But Pathetic And Lethargic Speed

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OpenSignal’s latest “The State of LTE” report for June 2017 is out, and like most things in the Indian telecom industry over the past ten months, it is all about Reliance Jio. According to the report, 4G availability and coverage in India have shot up over the past six months. However, this has come at the already poor 4G network quality and the average 4G speed in India.

4G availability in India has now reached to 81.56% of the time, placing India at 15th place out of the 75 countries surveyed. This represents a considerable improvement over November 2016, when 4G availability was much lower at 71.60%, placing India at the 24th spot.

However, this improvement has come at a steep cost – speed. The data indicates that the average 4G speed in India has come down to 5.14 Mbps, from 6.39 Mbps in November last year. This puts India at the pitiable rank of 74 out of 75. This is even worse than six months ago when India came in at 73rd.

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A while back we reported the tremendous effect Reliance Jio has had on the 4G connectivity in India. They ushered in the 4G revolution in India and triggered a price war in the industry. Prices and data limits came crashing down and heralded a new telecom revolution in India. As a result, Jio managed to garner 100 million subscribers in merely six months!

However, this new data points to a troubling trend that is showing no signs of improving. We pointed out how Reliance Jio’s modus operandi was quantity over quality, and this has been a crippling factor in the industry too. The average 4G speed in India now clocks at 5.14 Mbps, nowhere near the global average of 16.2 Mbps. While countries like Singapore and South Korea are threatening to break the 50 Mbps barrier with average 4G speeds of over 45 Mbps, India is still stuck at just over one-tenth of that.

4G-availability-in-countries

In fact, the average 4G speed in India is marginally faster than the average global 3G speed of 4.4 Mbps. This is a startling fact, which points to the degrading quality of India’s network infrastructure. Essentially, it is 4G in name only, with performance being functionally similar to 3G with poor latency and speeds. Just like Jio is primarily responsible for a lot of good that has happened in the industry, it is now also responsible for this huge negative.

There is still hope for the future. Jio’s I&G (Infill & Growth) project in collaboration with Samsung aims to overhaul its entire network infrastructure and improve network quality. Reliance’s network has also been under tremendous amount of stress in the past six months, owing to its free new year’s offer. As Jio fully transitions to a paid subscription model, stress on the network should reduce, leading to improved speeds.

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