Ookla has released its insights on India’s performance post launch of 5G services. According to the insights, the median download speeds across India increased by 115 per cent (from a 13.87 Mbps median download speed in September 2022 to 29.85 Mbps in January 2023). As a result, India’s position on the Speedtest Global Index improved by 49 places from 118th in September 2022 to 69th in January 2023. This puts India ahead of some of the G20 countries, such as Mexico, Russia, and Argentina, and its neighbors – Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. India is also catching up with the likes of Turkey (a 30.98 Mbps median download speed/65th place on the Speedtest Global Index), South Africa (34.71 Mbps/58th place), and Brazil (35.85 Mbps/57th place).
When 5G was first launched in October 2022, there was a wide disparity in the early 5G network performance users were experiencing on 5G-capable devices; median 5G download speeds oscillated between 512.57 Mbps (Gujarat) and 19.23 Mbps (Uttar Pradesh West) as the 5G networks build out started. In fact, in nine telecom circles: Andhra Pradesh, Kolkata, North East, Haryana, Rajasthan, Bihar, Punjab, Kerala, and Uttar Pradesh West, the median 5G download speed was below 100 Mbps because networks were very much at the testing stage. Four months on, in January 2023, 5G median download speeds had greatly increased across all of the telecom circles — exceeding 200 Mbps everywhere except Jammu and Kashmir, with Kolkata clocking speeds over 500 Mbps.
Moreover, 5G investments made by the operators has also propelled an increase in 4G LTE speeds thanks to the modernisation of the underlying infrastructure. For instance, median 5G download speed is 25 times that of 4G LTE (338.12 Mbps as compared to 13.30 Mbps), and median 5G upload speed is 4.5 times 4G LTE (19.65 Mbps vs 3.55 Mbps). Ookla’s insight report also witnesses the improvements in LTE speeds (both for Airtel and Jio) in multiple cities as they are offloading 4G traffic onto their 5G network, therefore reducing 4G network congestion. This must be caveated by the fact that these are still early days for 5G in India, and 5G performance will most likely decrease once those networks are commercially available.
Comparing the performance of Jio and Airtel, Ookla insight report shows that in January 2023, the early adopters of Jio’s 5G experienced speeds ranging from 246.49 Mbps median download speed in Himachal Pradesh to 506.25 Mbps in Kolkata while the Airtel’s 5G early adopters experienced speeds ranging from a 78.13 Mbps median download speed in Kolkata to 268.89 Mbps in Delhi.
The report also inferred the churn pattern of Speedtest users from January to December 2022, which shows that Vi India has been losing users throughout 2022 and following the 5G launch, the disconnections increased significantly. Most of Vi’s customers have moved away to Jio (1.88 per cent) and Airtel (1.32 per cent). Jio gained around 1.3 per cent of customers from Airtel and Vi India. In comparison, Airtel has lost 0.53 per cent to Jio but gained 0.63 per cent from Vi over the same period.