India’s experience with 4G can be neatly divided into two eras: one before Reliance Jio, and the other after Reliance Jio. Ever since its launch in September 2016, Jio has completely disrupted the telecom industry in the country, by providing truly unlimited and inexpensive 4G LTE data while competitors scrambled to keep up. The telecom operator’s freebie launch period, wherein it distributed free-of-cost SIM cards that allowed for free, unlimited and no-strings-attached 4G data, saw it rake in 100 Million subscribers within just 5 months of its public launch.
A new report from Ookla SpeedTest sheds light on the current state of 4G LTE in India. Reliance Jio has achieved 4G LTE availability of 98.8% in India, meaning that a Jio customer has access to LTE services at 98.8% of the locations that have been surveyed. This is followed by Airtel at second place with 90% availability, Vodafone at 84.6% and Idea at 82.8%. This has to be compared with the general availability scores of the telecoms, to show a scenario where you get general service from the carrier but no 4G, indicating the robustness of their 4G infrastructure. Jio once again leads the chart, being present in 99.3% of surveyed locations in India, followed by Airtel at 99.1%, Vodafone at 99% and Idea at 98.9%.
As far as speed are concerned, Airtel led the charts, irrespective of whether the customer was on LTE or not, meaning that Airtel’s 4G is the fastest 4G network in the country for Q3-Q4 2018. Jio ranked at 3rd spot, likely due to network congestion because of its relatively cheaper and more generous data offerings.
The situation that is seen here may be disrupted in future because of a few key events. Airtel is working on expanding its LTE service in major Indian cities using the 900 MHz band, which should improve its general and 4G availability, but may also decrease its speed. Vodafone and Idea’s merger in 2018 was successful, but the two brands continue to operate independently. If they combined their infrastructure, consumers would benefit from the complementary service areas, while the combined entity could be in a better position to reallocate its resources to go against Reliance Jio and Airtel. For now though, what can be conclusively said is the fact that Reliance Jio is here to stay in India.
Source: Ookla Speedtest
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