Monday November 13, 2023

India’s Remarkable 5G Advancement Elevates its Global Mobile Ranking

Person looking at mobile phone smiling, light is reflecting on face in dark room

Sylwia Kechiche | October 2, 2023

 

Ookla® data shows that in India over the past year, mobile download speeds in the country have seen significant improvement. In fact, India jumped 72 places on the Speedtest Global Index™ over the past year, with India’s 5G launch largely responsible for boosting the country’s ranking.

Key messages

  • India ranked 47 in August 2023. The country’s speed performance has seen a 3.59 times increase since the introduction of 5G, with median download speeds improving from 13.87 Mbps in September 2022 to 50.21 Mbps in August 2023. This improvement has led to India’s rise in the Speedtest Global Index, moving up 72 places, from 119th place to the 47th position.
  • 5G benefits extend to all telecom circles. 5G deployments have led to an improved overall user experience across all telecom circles thanks to operators investing in backhaul infrastructure. The launch of 5G technology by operators like Jio and Airtel has led to a substantial increase in 5G subscribers, and operators still have ambitious rollout plans, with the deployment of a significant number of 5G base stations across the country.
  • Not only faster speeds. 5G has not only brought faster speeds but also higher customer satisfaction, as indicated by the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which shows that 5G users in India consistently rate their network operators more positively compared to 4G users. Additionally, 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services have been introduced to provide broadband connectivity in areas where laying fiber is costly or impractical.

India climbed by 72 places on Speedtestss mobile rankings thanks to 5G rollouts

Speedtest Intelligence® data shows that median download speeds across India increased by 259% since before 5G launched, jumping from 13.87 Mbps in September 2022 to a median download speed of 50.21 Mbps in August 2023. As a result, India’s position on the Speedtest Global Index™ improved by 72 places, from 119th in September 2022 to 47th in August 2023. This puts India ahead of its neighbors, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan, but also some G20 countries, such as Mexico (90th), Turkey (68th), the UK (62nd), Japan (58th), Brazil (50th place), and South Africa (48th place).

Mobile performance improved in all telecom circles

Mobile users in India are among the most data-intensive consumers in the world. However, India’s 4G networks have been unable to keep up with consumer expectations, primarily due to network congestion caused by population density, lack of cellular infrastructure, backhaul, as well as spectrum constraints. Following the 5G spectrum auction, operators have been able to address some of those issues and help to offload 4G traffic onto 5G networks, thus reducing 4G network congestion – the strategy has proven successful already, as 25% to 35% of traffic is already getting offloaded on 5G from 4G.

 

According to Speedtest data, India’s median download speed has improved remarkably, increasing by 3.59 times since 5G was launched in the country in [month/year]. Back in October 2022, for example, India’s median download speed ranged from 10.37 Mbps in North East to 21.49 Mbps in Jammu and Kashmir. However, by August 2023, the range of median download speeds had widened significantly, with each circle clocking a speed of more than 28 Mbps. The North East saw a median download speed of 28.02 Mbps, while Jammu and Kashmir recorded a high of 150.95 Mbps.

In August 2023, Jammu and Kashmir, located in the northernmost part of India, emerged as the leader in mobile median download speeds at 150.96 Mbps, surpassing Bihar (73.00 Mbps) and Kolkata (66.47 Mbps). Jammu and Kashmir was one of the last states to launch a mobile network in 2003, and due to security concerns and internet shutdowns, there were occasional disruptions in mobile network services. However, the local administration has been focusing on developing infrastructure in various tourist places, particularly in Kashmir.

Fast-paced 5G adoption

Jio and Airtel have been implementing 5G technology since October 2022, following the acquisition of 5G spectrum licenses. At first, they concentrated on launching in major cities, but their coverage has expanded significantly, and 5G performance has improved across all telecom circles. In October 2022, there was a noticeable difference in the performance of 5G networks on 5G-compatible devices. Median download speeds ranged from 512.57 Mbps in Gujarat to 19.23 Mbps in Uttar Pradesh West as the networks were under development. In fact, in nine telecom circles: Andhra Pradesh, Kolkata, North East, Haryana, Rajasthan, Bihar, Punjab, Kerala, and Uttar Pradesh West, median 5G download speeds were below 100 Mbps because networks were in early testing stages. However, by August 2023, median 5G download speeds exceeded 240 Mbps across all telecom areas, with Kolkata leading the pack with a median download speed of 385.50 Mbps.

As 5G deployments continue in India, the number of subscribers keeps growing. Reliance Jio announced it has over 50 million customers, and Bharti Airtel claimed it had over 10 million 5G customers in June.

 

Jio also has ambitious rollout targets – it aims to deploy nearly 1 million base stations by December 2023 to address growing data consumption on its network. According to The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the country had 338,572 5G base stations (BTS) as of August 28, 2023, a significant increase from the 53,590 reported at the beginning of the year. The three most populous states in India – Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Bihar – account for 25% of all wireless subscribers in the country and also hold a 25% share of 5G BTS.

5G speeds in India are particularly impressive compared to those on 4G; in August 2023, for example, median download speeds on 5G were 2,003% faster than those on 4G, with 5G showing a median download speed of 316.24 Mbps compared to 14.97 Mbps on 4G. The speed increase has been heavily propelled by operators investing in fiber technology to improve backhaul.

5G has a positive impact on Net Promoter Scores

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a tool that gauges customer loyalty and satisfaction. NPS is a key performance indicator of customer experience, categorizing users into Detractors (those that score 0-6), Passives (scores between 7 and 8), and Promoters (score of 9-10), with the NPS representing the percentage of Promoters minus the percent of Detractors, displayed in the range from -100 to 100.

In our recent article, we found that 5G users, on average, rated their network operator with NPS scores that were universally higher than those for 4G LTE users. The story is similar in India, where in Q2 2023, 5G scored 15.80 compared to -29.65 for 4G. In most telecom regions, except for the North East, the 5G NPS consistently outperforms that of 4G/LTE.

Ookla understands real-life consumer experience

Median 5G performance allows us to understand the midpoint of the user experience on 5G networks, but it doesn’t paint the complete picture. Speedtest® is designed to thoroughly saturate a user’s connection, uniquely allowing us to accurately measure the maximum speeds available. This is especially important for 5G connections, which can be capable of tremendous speeds, such as those we observed in India. Using Speedtest data, we can see that operators in India have already achieved maximum download speeds exceeding 1.7 Gbps. Speedtest simultaneously measures download speeds from multiple servers to ensure a fully utilized connection.

Early days for 5G FWA

In addition, operators have introduced 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services to complement their existing 5G offerings. FWA offers an excellent opportunity to cover areas that are too costly to lay fiber and is an alternative to fixed networks. 5G FWA offers an opportunity in India because it will use 5G as the last-mile technology to provide broadband connectivity.

5G FWA has already been very successful in the United States, South Africa, and the Philippines. Bharti Airtel launched ‘Airtel Xstream AirFiber’ in Delhi and Mumbai in August 2023, extending their services beyond their fiber footprint. Their plans start at Rs 799 ($9.64) per month and offer download speeds of up to 100 Mbps. Jio also launched ‘JioAirFiber,’ in September, initially available in eight cities, including Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Pune. There are several plan options available for ‘AirFiber’ and ‘AirFiber Max’ with download speeds ranging from 30 Mbps to 1 Gbps. Pricing starts at INR 599 ($7.22) per month and goes up to INR 3,999 ($48.23).

We will continue to monitor 5G performance in India, see how operators scale networks, and assess the real-world performance as more consumers will connect with 5G devices and use 5G FWA. If you want to learn more, subscribe to Ookla Insights™ to be the first to read our analyses.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article/press release are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the approved policy or position of the GSMA or its subsidiaries.

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