Ookla analyst on latest trends in Indian telecom industry

Sylwia Kechiche, Principal Analyst, Enterprise at Ookla, has shared the latest trends in Indian telecom service industry for 2023.
Kazakhstan mobile networkMobile speeds to improve

Speedtest intelligence data showed that mobile speed in India has increased over the past 12 months. Mobile download speed was 18.26 Mbps in November 2022, up 14.39 Mbps in November 2021. At the same time, India has climbed seven spaces in the Speedtest Global Index ranking, from 112th place in November 2021 to 105th in November 2022.

Demand for 5G to pick up

According to our Ookla Consumer Survey, 89 percent of respondents intend to upgrade to 5G and only 2 percent stated that they don’t intend to upgrade to 5G.

Early Speedtest Intelligence data revealed a range of 5G download speeds: from low double-digit (16.27 Mbps) to a mindblowing 809.94 Mbps, which points to the fact that the operators are still recalibrating their networks. These speeds will be more stable moving forward as 5G mobile networks will enter the commercial stage.

Winning 5G consumers will be a priority

Indian telecom operators are busy rolling out 5G services following the 5G spectrum auction. Ookla’s 5G Map shows that Reliance Jio has extended the 5G network to 20 locations, while Airtel has extended to 15.

In November 2022, Airtel announced one million customers have accessed its 5G network across the country. This is because customers with 5G smartphones can use the Airtel 5G Plus service on their existing data plans until the rollout is more widespread.

State operator BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam) plans to upgrade its 4G technology stack to 5G next year. Ookla’s consumer survey shows that almost half of the respondents (48 percent) plan to upgrade to 5G as soon as it is available in their area, and would consider switching providers if necessary. 20 percent will do so as soon as their current provider offers 5G, 14 percent when they have a 5G-capable phone, and 7 percent plan to wait for their current contract to end.

Satellite internet disrupts

Low Earth Orbit services from companies such as Starlink and OneWeb have broad applications within the Indian market. Low fixed broadband penetration – less than 10 percent of households – presents a strong opportunity for growth.

Satellite internet services will serve as a competitive play in areas where fiber hasn’t been deployed, offering competitive speeds, according to Ookla’s recent analysis report. There are broader roles for satellite internet, both in terms of providing backhaul services and offering coverage in more remote rural areas.

India’s National Broadband Mission highlights satellite as part of the technology mix to extend broadband connectivity across India. Satellite-based broadband connectivity should be commercially available to users by mid-2023.

5G FWA offers opportunity

5G Fixed Wireless Access will use 5G as the last-mile technology to provide broadband connectivity. 5G FWA has already been very successful in the United States, South Africa, and the Philippines, and there is a growing interest in India too.

For instance, Jio announced that it will launch Jio AirFibre, a plug-and-play device connected to Jio’s 5G network that will act as a hotspot. While the exact launch date is still unknown, the operator revealed that it is targeting 100 million households with its 5G FWA offer.