Indian 2G, 3G users face poor mobile video experience: Opera survey

Mobile video experience is poor on Indian 2G and 3G networks in India, said Opera’s Skyfire survey.

The main telecom operators in India are Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Reliance Comm, Tata Teleservices, BSNL, MTNL, Aircel, etc.

Opera does not share network specific details.

The poor experience reflects 3G investment by telecom operators. “We are now talking about poor quality video services. We are not even getting adequate 3G mobile Internet in several places in cities such as Delhi and Mumbai,” said a telecom industry analyst.

According to the Opera survey, 99 percent of 2G mobile subscribers say they experience stalling when they use video.

The survey noted that 56 percent of 3G video users say they experience significant stalling, while 83 percent 3G users report some stalling.

Cloud-based mobile video-optimization provider Skyfire, a subsidiary of Opera Software, says these 56 percent of video consumers on India’s 3G networks suffer from significant stalling and re-buffering, leading to frustrated users and high video abandonment rates. 83 percent of users on 3G experience at least some stalling while trying to watch video.

To conduct the study, Skyfire combined its global data on mobile video network loads with extensive bandwidth test data from wireless network authority OpenSignal, using recent data from 2013 on India’s networks.

Skyfire’s data shows that on India’s 3G networks, 40 percent of all video streams ran at bitrates of less than 300 kbps, a very low speed for video playback on mobile devices.

On mobile devices, HD video requires 5 to 10 times higher bandwidth, and the immensely popular auto-play videos within the Vine and Instagram apps use a much higher bitrate (900-1300 kbps); therefore they will typically not play without frustratingly long start times.

Significant stalling is defined as a video that stalls or buffers more than 10 percent of its overall playback time, and more than half (56 percent) of videos on India’s 3G networks experienced playback issues at this rate.

India’s mobile networks struggling with mobile video traffic explosion

Investment in 3G and 2G is important to improve customer experience to mobile users in India, the second largest telecom market in the world. Bharti Airtel Capex for Indian telecom market dipped in the second quarter of FY 2014. If telecoms are not making investments in network quality, churn will increase.

Video consumption on mobile phones is set to increase in coming years.

According to Cisco’s 2013 Visual Networking Index, mobile data traffic in India is projected to reach a whopping 900 petabytes per month by 2017, with 60 percent of that data coming from mobile video alone.

Additionally, YouTube announced earlier this year that 30 percent of all YouTube videos consumed in India were already being watched on mobile.

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