Now that the data deluge is over, Jio’s speeds are increasing

In a few weeks OpenSignal will release its second State of Mobile Networks report for India, but in the interim we thought we share some of the interesting trend data we’re seeing from India’s most headline-grabbing operator, Reliance Jio. As we pointed out in our last India report, Jio’s rush to add subscribers has come with challenges. Since launching a year ago, the 4G-only operator has garnered more than 100 million subscribers, all enticed by its offers of free, nearly unlimited data. But opening up the mobile internet spigot took a toll on Jio’s network. While the operator topped the 4G network availability chart in our India analysis, Jio ranked last in 4G speed as its millions of data-hungry customers competed for capacity on its LTE network. Since then a lot has changed, though. In April, most of Jio’s freebie plans ended, and customers found themselves paying for their data services. The result: Jio’s speeds have increased — not just increased, they’ve skyrocketed.

In the chart above, we tracked average 4G download speeds measured by OpenSignal users on Jio’s network over the five three-month test periods since our last report came out. After an uptick in February, Jio’s speeds leveled out at around 4.2 Mbps between the test periods ending in March and April. But as soon as Jio’s free data offers concluded on April 1, we started recording a steady rise in average 4G speed all the way till the end of July. In the last six months, Jio’s typical 4G download has ballooned from 3.9 Mbps to 5.8 Mbps — that’s almost a 50% increase in speed, which is frankly astonishing.

So what’s causing this sudden influx of bandwidth? It could be that Jio has upgraded its network, adding capacity to feed its customers’ unquenchable thirst for data. It could be that customers started fleeing once the free data promotion ended, though a Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey found that most of Jio’s customers weren’t likely to jump ship. Or it could be that the customers are reining in their data use now that they actually have to pay for the megabytes and gigabytes they consume. Chances are, it’s a combination of multiple factors. The bottom line is the typical mobile data experience on Jio’s network has improved dramatically in a relatively short period of time.

We well could see even more improvements in the coming months. In our recent peak speed analysis of India, we discovered that Jio’s network was one one of the more technologically powerful LTE systems in India, but its customers weren’t able to access the full potential of that network as there was so much competition for bandwidth. But now that Jio is managing its capacity better, customers can tap into more and more of that potential. In short, Jio’s 4G speed metric still has plenty of room to grow.

Have your own insights on why Jio’s 4G speeds are increasing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. We’ll release our full results on India in the coming weeks so stay tuned to see just how Jio’s speed surge impacts our overall rankings.

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