The Indian telecoms world is completely unique. Never before have we seen a market of such magnitude, regional and cultural diversity, and growth potential. OpenSignal has chosen to publish our latest report in a bespoke format to allow us to dive into the level of analysis we think this unique market deserves. We’ve introduced a new series of top-level metrics for the first time in this report, giving awards for 4G Availability, Download Speed Experience, Upload Speed Experience, Latency Experience and Video Experience. We have also included regional awards for India’s five national operators Airtel, BSNL, Idea, Jio and Vodafone across all 22 telecoms circles.
We saw a three-way tie in our new, first-of-its-kind Video Experience metric, as Airtel, Jio and Vodafone all came within a point of each other. Our Video Experience metric analyzes the video quality consumers see over mobile networks, ranking operators on a scale of 0-100, taking into account video load time, stalling rates during video playback and picture quality.
To succeed with a high score in Video Experience, operators must ensure there are no weak links anywhere in their infrastructure which could affect mobile video delivery to smartphone users. As India’s mobile networks get faster and faster, consumer habits are changing — and the thirst for video content is now shaping operator strategy.
We expect mobile video experience to become just as important as more traditional speed and coverage metrics in India, as mobile networks become faster and more reliable and users adopt more data-hungry activities like streaming. Jio recently stated that its users are consuming an average of 17.5 hours of mobile video per month, while a recent study showed Indians spending more time watching videos online than TV. And these changes in consumer behavior are changing operator strategy. Airtel has recently began bundling in access to Netflix for higher-spending customers, while Jio is signing similar deals with ZEE and Viacom18.
In our other India metrics, we’re now seeing some of the highest 4G Availability scores of any of the markets we examine, despite India having launched LTE later than its peers. Jio continues to impress in our 4G Availability analysis, as the operator’s score continues to grow from 96.4% to 96.7% — remarkable in a relatively new LTE market like India. Jio also won our Latency Experience award, although it was Airtel who came top of our 4G-only latency table after edging ahead of Vodafone, who led in this category six months ago.
Airtel has traditionally won the lion’s share of OpenSignal’s mobile experience awards, and the operator kept its Download Speed Experience crown (formerly called overall download speed), surging further ahead with over 25% growth in our measurements in the past six months. Airtel also tied for our top spot in Video Experience and came in second place in our 4G Availability analysis.
The Indian mobile competitive landscape is set for further upheaval with the merger of Idea and Vodafone. The new operator will be India’s largest in terms of subscriber share, and the company’s combined customer bases, and network and infrastructure assets, will undoubtedly make it a force to be reckoned with. But there is still a lot of potential for growth in the market, and competition remains fierce as Jio continues to disrupt. In addition, intense levels of competition and free data offerings have led to unsustainable drops in mobile revenues and average revenue per users (ARPU) in India, and OpenSignal now expects operators to move towards the tiered paid data models familiar in the rest of the mobile world. When, eventually, the mobile price war begins to subside, India’s operators will have more breathing space to focus on other ways to invest in improving mobile network experience as opposed to a race to the bottom on price.
What’s your experience of the rapidly changing Indian mobile market? Do you think the fierce competition between the operators is starting to settle down? Let us know in the comments sections below. And be sure to check out our new India Mobile Network Experience report.