Reliance Jio’s competitive foray into the telecom market was a dramatic wakeup call for the incumbents. In addition to losing hundreds of thousands of subscribers, leaders such as Airtel and Vodafone have been struggling to keep up with Jio’s consistent advancements in both numbers and technology. OpenSignal’s new report, however, reveals that operators have seemed to double down on their 4G networks yielding impressive growth in the months of December, January and February.
While Reliance Jio continued to be the most widely accessible 4G network, availability for others such as Airtel, Idea, and Vodafone grew by nearly 10% as well. However, Jio still holds a significant lead with a score of 96.4% as compared to Airtel’s 66.81%, Vodafone’s 68.83%, and Idea’s 68.15%. It’s certainly bewildering to see network juggernauts like Airtel lag so far behind. Although OpenSignal says that’s changing at a rapid pace and while it will take months for them to reach Jio’s level, chances are that the difference won’t so glaring the next time.
What Airtel lacks in availability, it makes up for it in speed. The operator led the download and upload bandwidth charts for 4G as well as 3G signals. The company also reclaimed the overall speed title from Jio with an average download rate of 6 Mbps. Jio, in comparison, stands at 5.1 Mbps. While nationally, these rates might seem promising, they are still vastly disappointing globally. To put it in perspective, Airtel’s average download speed of 9.3 Mbps is remarkably less than the global 4G download average of 16.9 Mbps.
One critical field where Vodafone stands the tallest is latency. While that not might sound as crucial as availability and speed, it does play an important role in VoLTE services. Having a lower latency spells better response times for calls and other real-time communications apps. Vodafone’s 4G latency clocked at 66.4 milliseconds beating out Airtel’s score of 70.3ms.
OpenSignal predicts that the majority of the obstacles hindering the progress of aspects like 4G speed might be soon put to rest. Since the number of telecom operators in the country is now shriveling thanks to the multitude of mergers in the recent times, a hefty chunk of spectrum assets will be either up for bids or fused together into one. This will offer enough leeway for operators to patch congestion issues and efficiently handle the soaring traffic. The Idea-Vodafone deal will have the most substantial impact on this given the scale of both of them.
“India’s regulator also looks set to auction off new mobile broadband airwaves, which could bolster 4G services as well as provide a foundation for future 5G networks. And even as the number of operators in India shrinks, new 4G services are still emerging. BSNL Mobile is planning a large-scale LTE rollout, starting with 10 circles. India’s 4G future is certainly complex, but, all said, that future looks bright.”, added OpenSignal further.