Airtel is India’s fastest mobile network, offering average total download speeds of 6.15Mbps, according to network coverage mapping company OpenSignal’s first public report into the Indian telecommunications market.
Airtel topped both the 4G download speed and 3G download speed categories, at 11.53Mbps and 4.77Mbps, respectively, while Jio took home the 4G availability gong and Vodafone India won in the 4G latency and 3G latency categories.
OpenSignal drew on 1.3 billion measurements between December and February for the report, selecting only the mobile providers that met its nationwide criteria given the diversity of the market, which has recently seen several consolidations.
“India is one of the most complex mobile markets we have ever studied. Not only is the mobile market extremely large, but it’s a highly distributed one; India is divided up into 22 telecom circles, with multiple operators licensed to operate in each. That makes it quite difficult to compare operators to one another on a national level, because not every operator is operating in every region,” OpenSignal explained.
“That said, through consolidation and acquisition, several operators have recently emerged as national or near-national providers, offering either voice or mobile broadband services in the large majority of India’s circles. For our national comparison, we selected the operators that were able to meet that criteria for the different mobile technologies we measure.”
As such, OpenSignal chose 4G-only operator Reliance Jio, formed last year by oil and telco billionaire Mukesh Ambani, who brought further competition to the market by offering low-cost bundles; 3G-only providers Reliance Communications and the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) Mobile; and 3G and 4G services providers Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, and Idea Cellular.
In terms of average 4G download speeds, Vodafone followed Airtel on 8.59Mbps; Idea on 8.34Mbps; and Jio on 3.92Mbps.
All four had only begun rolling out 4G services last year after a series of soft launches in 2015, with an OpenSignal report from earlier this year ranking India seventh from last globally in terms of 4G speeds, ahead of only Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, the Philippines, and Costa Rica. Its overall 4G speed was listed as being just 4.17Mbps; by comparison, worldwide frontrunner South Korea’s overall speed was 37.54Mbps.
Vodafone also came second behind Airtel in 3G speeds, with an average of 4.3Mbps, followed by BSNL, on 3.41Mbps; Idea, on 3.37Mbps; and Reliance, on 2.63Mbps. Vodafone’s overall download speed was 5.13Mbps; Idea’s was 4.16Mbps; Jio’s 3.92Mbps; BSNL’s 3.41Mbps; and Reliance’s 2.63Mbps.
The category of 4G availability, calculated by measuring the proportion of time that each network’s users have a 4G signal available to them, was topped by Jio. Its score of 91.57 percent availability put it well out ahead,…