Why 4G does not guarantee great mobile video in India

Investment in LTE 4G network by telecom operators does not guarantee great mobile video in India, says OpenSignal.
Video experience on 4G network in IndiaLeading 4G operators in India include Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio. India has around 333 million 4G subscribers and Reliance Jio is the dominating leader in the Indian 4G market, according to TRAI data for June quarter of 2018.

Top telecom equipment makers such as Huawei, Nokia, Ericsson, Samsung and ZTE promise that deployment of their mobile networks and software will be able to offer the best mobile customer experience.

But the reality is different. Smartphone users in most of the towns are unable to open videos seamlessly if they are sitting indoors. The outdoor experience of mobile phone users is also not encouraging in several towns. OpenSignal investigation says mobile network operators need to make more investment.

Airtel India is making $2 billion plus investment in network to boost its data network. Airtel network is delivering the best quality data services, according to several study reports.

Reliance Jio is aiming to cover 99 percent of India’s population by the end of this year. Jio did not receive top position in upload and download speeds measured by overseas analyst firms. But Jio network does well, according to TRAI.

Vodafone Idea, which has slashed their Capex in networks in the wake of the merger, is aiming to spend more to compete with Airtel and Reliance Jio.

The telecom research report from OpenSignal said mobile video streaming suffers from any weak links in delivery.

Indian mobile operators must support a consistent end-to-end performance across their infrastructure to score highly on mobile video experience. A good LTE radio signal is not enough for offering better mobile experience to customers.

OpenSignal investigated the mobile video experience across India and discovered there is no link, or correlation, between the time smartphone users spend on 4G — 4G availability — and the quality of the mobile video experience they enjoy.

This is because mobile video experience depends on many other factors, beyond the radio access network, OpenSignal said.

The cell towers’ mobile radio; the backhaul links from the towers which transport the video traffic; each operator’s core network; and the peering to the content delivery network (CDN) or streaming server where the original video is hosted – impact video quality.

India’s operators must deploy their networks even more widely than in larger countries to reach out to customers. India is a large country with the seventh largest surface area in the world with 3.29 million square kilometers. Only Russia, Canada, China, USA, Brazil and Australia have a larger area for mobile networks to reach.

Video experience

Smartphone users enjoy the best mobile video experience in Mumbai, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Kolkata and, Jammu and Kashmir, with scores over 41 on OpenSignal’s new mobile video experience measure.

Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir rate much more highly for mobile video experience than they do compared with other regions for 4G availability, demonstrating that good 4G availability is not a guide to a reliable mobile video experience.

India’s four most populated cities offer smartphone users a better mobile video experience than 17 of the 22 regions OpenSignal assessed. There is little difference in the mobile video experience of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, and Hyderabad’s smartphone users.

Baburajan K