India has among the top 4G LTE coverage at 84 percent, but ranks 109 in terms of download speeds in the world

The reports include The State of LTE and State of Mobile Networks: India by OpenSignal, the Ookla Speedtest Global Index, and TRAI's Myspeed app.

A number of reports have emerged that paint a comprehensive picture of the condition of mobile internet connectivity across India. The reports include The State of LTE and State of Mobile Networks: India by OpenSignal, the Ookla Speedtest Global Index and TRAI's Myspeed app. TRAI updates its site with the average speeds of the last three months, as well as the speeds of the previous month on the first of every month. OpenSignal, Ookla, and TRAI all crowdsource the network performance metrics from applications installed on smartphones.

A smartphone running a speedtest app.

Representational Image.

Together, the data shows how India stands compared to the rest of the world when it comes to coverage, the coverage of each individual operator, the speeds in India and around the world and the speeds by the operator. OpenSignal also tracks latency, with a granular detail for each telecom service provider. The TRAI Myspeed app does not track global data but makes available upload and download speeds over 3G and 4G LTE networks in the different telecom circles across India.

Among the 77 countries in the study by OpenSignal, India comes in eleventh in the world when it comes to coverage, with 84 percent of the country having access to 4G LTE connectivity. However, when it comes to speeds, India is right at the bottom of the list, with just about the lowest speeds in the world, among the countries considered for the report.

The granular breakdown of the coverage shows that Reliance Jio has a much greater coverage than the national average when all telecom operators are considered, with more than 95 percent of the country covered by a Jio 4G LTE signal.

Jio has clearly helped give a boost to coverage across the nation. Andrea Toth from OpenSignal says, "LTE availability in India is remarkable. The users were able to connect to an LTE signal over 84 percent of the time — a rise of over 10 percentage points from a year earlier. This places India ahead of more established countries in the 4G landscape such as Sweden, Taiwan, Switzerland or the UK. Jio's widespread 4G access, along with its at-first free and later heavily discounted data and voice plans, quickly won the hearts — and wallets — of more than 100 million mobile users across the country."

When it comes to mobile internet speeds, where 3G and 4G LTE are considered together, India comes in the 109th place in the world according to data collected by Ookla.

Doug Suttles, co-founder and general manager at Ookla said, "Both mobile and fixed broadband internet in India are getting faster, that's good news for all Indian consumers no matter which operator or plan they use to access the internet. India still has a long way to go to catch up with countries that have top speeds around the world, however, we at Ookla are highly optimistic about the capacity for growth that is available in the Indian market and looks forward to watching how the market grows in this coming new year."

The OpenSignal reports demonstrates that 4G LTE speeds have not breached the 50 Mbps barrier in any country in the world, and the improvements in speeds have slowed down in the top performing countries. The average worldwide download speed is 16.6 Mbps. While India has a high coverage but low speeds, there are other outliers as well. South Korea and Singapore both enjoy high speeds and wide coverage, with South Korea on top when it comes to availability, and Singapore on top when it comes to speeds. Algeria enjoys a relatively high average 4G LTE speed of 11.05 Mbps, but the coverage is abysmal at 41.5 percent.

Jio is ahead of all other operators by 32 percentage points when it comes to the availability metric. The data also shows that the reach of Airtel, Vodafone and Idea all increased over the period of the study, but the speeds of all three operators declined. According to OpenSignal, "This is likely a result of the intense competition for 4G customers since Jio's emergence." Airtel had the highest speeds when it came to 3G and 4G LTE.

Vodafone demonstrated the lowest latency in both 3G and 4G LTE networks. Latency is a measure of how responsive the network is, including how fast web pages load, or how little lag is experienced during real-time applications such as video chat or multiplayer gaming. As Jio is a 4G LTE only network, the fields in the data for the 3G metrics for Jio are empty. The data also showed that no operator from India, on average, exceeded the global average 3G speeds of 4.4 Mbps or 4G LTE speeds of 16.2 Mbps.

The monthly data by Ookla shows that there is a slowdown in the increase of mobile internet speeds. There were sharp jumps between December and February 2017, a drop from February to April 2017, another sharp rise from April to May 2017, after which the increase in speeds levelled off. The upload speeds have stayed more or less steady over the course of the previous year. The highest average mobile internet speeds seen over the past year was in the month of October, with speeds of 8.83 Mbps. In November last year, the average speed was 6.18 Mbps. The data made available by Ookla is not split into 3G or 4G LTE networks.

TRAI's Myspeed data shows users will have to opt for a particular operator in a particular circle to get the best experience. Jio customers in Mumbai enjoyed the highest 4G LTE download speeds at 40.4 Mbps, which is significantly more than the global average. The highest 3G download speeds were offered by Vodafone in Orissa, at 6.1 Mbps. Upload speeds across India on 3G networks rarely crossed 2 Mbps, but Vodafone consumers in Orissa were able to enjoy 3G upload speeds of 2.8 Mbps, which was the highest in the country. The best upload speeds on 4G LTE was offered by Idea in Gujarat, at 10.2 Mbps. Across the operators, West Bengal has the best 4G LTE networks while Haryana enjoys the best 3G networks.

Idea offered the slowest 3G upload speeds in Jammu and Kashmir, at 0.8 Mbps, while the UP East circle had the lowest 3G download speeds at 1.6 Mbps from the same operator. Idea in Andhra Pradesh and Vodafone in the North East both offered the lowest download speeds of 5.3 Mbps over a 4G LTE network. Airtel in Kolkata, as well as Jio in Kerala and Assam offered the lowest 4G LTE upload speeds at 3.1 Mbps. There are some circles and operators missing in the TRAI data, which is an indication that a statistically significant amount of data was not collected from the combination of those circles and operators.

Disclaimer: Reliance Industries Ltd. is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd.

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